Antwerpen, Belgium

Institute of Tropical Medicine

www.itg.be
Antwerpen, Belgium

The Institute of Tropical Medicine , previously known as Prince Leopold Institute of Tropical Medicine is located in Antwerp, Belgium. ITM is one of the world's leading institutes for training and research in tropical medicine and the organisation of health care in developing countries. It also delivers outpatient, clinical and preventive services in tropical pathologies and sexually transmitted diseases. The institute has a strong reputation in research, travel medicine, public health issues, neglected tropical diseases. Peter Piot and colleagues at the institute were the first to demonstrate that AIDS was a tropical African disease. ITM has been recognized by the World Health Organization as a reference centre for AIDS research. ITM also is a national and international reference centre for a series of tropical diseases.At ITM, some 400 scientists and technicians do research on pathogens, patients and populations. Yearly, an average of 500 medical doctors, nurses and scientists follow advanced courses; some 120 young researchers are completing their PhD. Each year, the medical services handle around 35 000 consultations. The website www.travelhealth.be services more than 100 000 visitors a year.More than 75% of its publications appear in the top-25% of journals in its field. ITM also carries out an extensive capacity strengthening program in developing countries, and is part of a large network of institutions in Africa, South America and Asia. Wikipedia.

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Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: CSA | Phase: INFRADEV-2-2015 | Award Amount: 1.44M | Year: 2016

ERINHA2 aims to complete the work carried out during the first preparatory phase (PP1) - ERINHA - in order to reach the financial, administrative and technical maturity necessary to complete the establishment of the Research Infrastructre and ensure that the operation phase can begin in 2018. ERINHA2 will therefore finalise the decision to use the status of an association and prepare the necessary legal document to register the RI depending on the country voted on to host the Central Coordinating Unit. ERINHA2 will prepare all procedures and protocols (human resources, IPR, ethics) needed to effectively operate the RI. The financial and business plans prepared in ERINHA (PP1) will updated and presented to national and international stakeholders to obtain their agreement to fund the infrastructure. An overarching group of activities - WP5, Stakeholders and commitment - will aim to accompany all partner countries in their efforts to obtain agreements and funding. This WP5 will ensure all relevant stakeholders and potential users are informed of the progress, services and benefits of ERINHA. The utlimate outcome of ERINHA2 will be the signtature of the ERINHA statutes among the founding countries to officially establish the RI and enter into the construction phase.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: SC1-PM-22-2016 | Award Amount: 12.56M | Year: 2016

The ZikaPLAN initiative combines the strengths of 25 partners in Latin America, North America, Africa, Asia, and various centres in Europe to address the urgent research gaps (WP 1-8) in Zika, identifying short-and long term solutions (WP 9-10) and building a sustainable Latin-American EID Preparedness and Response capacity (WP 11-12). We will conduct clinical studies to further refine the full spectrum and risk factors of congenital Zika syndrome (including neurodevelopmental milestones in the first 3 years of life), and delineate neurological complications associated with Zika due to direct neuroinvasion and immune-mediated responses. Laboratory based research to unravel neurotropism, investigate the role of sexual transmission, determinants of severe disease, and viral fitness will envelop the clinical studies. Burden of disease and modelling studies will assemble a wealth of data including a longitudinal cohort study of 17,000 subjects aged 2-59 in 14 different geographic locations in Brazil over 3 years. Data driven vector control and vaccine modelling as well as risk assessments on geographic spread of Zika will form the foundation for evidence-informed policies. The Platform for Diagnostics Innovation and Evaluation will develop novel ZIKV diagnostic tests in accordance with WHO Target Product Profiles. Our global network of laboratory and clinical sites with well-characterized specimens is set out to accelerate the evaluation of the performance of such tests. Based on qualitative research, we will develop supportive, actionable messages to affected communities, and develop novel personal protective measures. Our final objective is for the Zika outbreak response effort to grow into a sustainable Latin-American network for emerging infectious diseases research preparedness. To this end we will engage in capacity building in laboratory and clinical research, collaborate with existing networks to share knowledge and tackle regulatory and other bottlenecks.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: MSCA-ITN-ETN | Phase: MSCA-ITN-2014-ETN | Award Amount: 3.82M | Year: 2015

Leishmaniasis control is the topic for EUROLEISH-NET, a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network. Leishmaniasis is a neglected infectious disease and a major public health and veterinary problem that afflicts both developing countries and Europe. The current technological and epidemiological advances underpin the necessity to develop training programmes aiming at developing new tools and strategies to control of leishmaniasis. An excellent group of academic and non-academic institutions in Europe and abroad will host 15 PhD students who will receive training in this programme. The expertise and training that will be offered ranges from parasitology to molecular science, genetics, epidemiology and strategic interventions. The 15 research projects designed encompass drug discovery, drug resistance, diagnostics and vaccine development, population genetics, vector control and integrated control programmes. The designated project supervisors have proven track records of success in research and in training. The incorporation of trainee mobility into the network, together with the commitment, strong affiliations and technology transfer between the participants provide a highly synergistic framework for success. The EUROLEISH-NET coordinators have proven experience in laboratory, field, administrative and financial management, supported by a meticulously planned series of meetings and diligent monitoring of the progression of each researcher. We anticipate an extremely productive training and research output from EUROLEISH-NET. We expect to train the next generation of leading research scientists in this field, endowed with skills that are broadly and internationally transposable.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: PHC-26-2014 | Award Amount: 5.46M | Year: 2015

EmERGE will develop a mHealth platform to enable self-management of HIV in patients with stable disease. The platform will build upon and integrate the existing mHealth solutions operated by pioneering healthcare providers in the UK and Spain and apply a rigorous co-design approach to ensure patient and clinician input to the solution. The platform will provide users with web based and mobile device applications which interface securely with relevant medical data and facilitate remote access to key healthcare providers EATG, the European HIV patient organisation, will provide a direct and deep interaction with representative patients and clinicians from 5 EU countries. The platform and interfaces will be validated in a large study of 3900 patients using a tailored HTA process, MAST, specifically developed for the assessment of mHealth solutions including translatability as a key factor. Based on prior work showing a high uptake rate and use of mHealth in HIV patient populations, EmERGE aims to demonstrate the benefits to patients and simultaneous increases in cost-effectiveness for healthcare providers by reducing face-to-face consultations, estimated at 6000 saved per year within this study alone. Patient reported outcomes will be agreed and used in the assessment and development of the system which also aims to increase adherence and enable frailty to be reported using mHealth technology. Innovation will be given priority from the beginning by developing new business models of care provision, targeting key stakeholders in the EU health provider sector, including policymakers and clinicians, while eliciting demand from patients to highlight and initiate the widespread implementation and compensation of mHealth solutions within the timeframe of the project. Guidelines and policy briefs will be produced to evidence the benefits and disseminate the lessons learned to support the uptake of mHealth for self-management of other chronic diseases.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP-SICA | Phase: HEALTH.2012.3.4-1 | Award Amount: 7.41M | Year: 2013

Health services fragmentation is one of the main obstacles to effective health care in Latin-America, particularly for chronic diseases. This research builds upon results from Equity-LA (FP7-B-223123) and focuses on one of the most promoted policies to respond to fragmentation in LA, the development of Integrated Health Care Networks (IHN). The general objective is to evaluate the effectiveness of different care integration strategies in improving coordination and quality of care of IHN in different health care systems in Latin America, with particular reference to chronic diseases. Methods: The study adopts a quasi-experimental design, with a participatory action-research approach. In each country, two comparable IHN will be selected -one acting as the intervention and the other as the control area. It is structured in four phases: 1) a base-line study using qualitative and quantitative methods to carry out an initial evaluation of IHN performance; 2) design and implementation of an intervention focused on care coordination and quality of care; and based on health professionals training; 3) evaluation of effectiveness and limitations of interventions and associated contextual factors; and; 4) cross-country comparative analysis and elaboration of tools for getting research into policy. In each country, a research steering committee will be set up to lead the project, composed by health care professionals, managers, users and researchers. Results and relevance: The project will contribute to FP7 Cooperation Work Programme Health (SICA)s objectives by: 1) generating evidence-based policies to improve integration of care in Latin American countries; 2) strengthening research capacity of all involved institutions in order to enhance knowledge development on care integration in their countries; and by 3) contributing to skills improvement and motivation of health workforce, through training programs aimed at improving care coordination and quality.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: HEALTH.2013.1.3-3 | Award Amount: 7.83M | Year: 2013

To find a therapy alternative to cART for life is one of the hot topics of investigation in HIV field. Therapeutic vaccination seems to be the best option. We have reported in a double-blind placebo controlled study some of the best, most solid data showing that HIV-1 specific immune responses elicited by therapeutic dendritic cell (DC) vaccines pulsed ex vivo with inactivated autologous whole virus could significantly change pVL set-point (mean peak drop of -1.2 log10 copies/ml). Similar efficacy has been found in a preliminary non controlled clinical trial using DC electroporated with mRNA encoding autologous HIV-1 antigens. However, the logistics of developing a specific vaccine by ex vivo manipulating autologous DC for each patient may be prohibitive. Therefore, we propose that in vivo targeting of DC by direct administration of a rational designed HIV mRNA encoding immunomodulating proteins might be an attractive alternative to target DCs in situ. Our candidate is highly innovative: 1. It is a mRNA based immunogen: it is expected to have a good safety profile, it is classified as nongene therapy by the American and German authorities, is easier to produce and to store regardless of the encoded antigen and is not restricted to a defined HLA type of individuals. 2. The HIV antigen encoded by mRNA has been selected with a rational design: based on our previous works selecting viral targets of protective HIV-1 specific T cell responses in 3 large cohorts of HIV infected individuals. 3. The candidate includes TriMix to target DC in vivo: our data suggest that mRNA encoding a mixture of antigen presenting cells activation molecules (CD40L, a constitutive active variant of TLR4 and CD70) significantly enhanced the induction of antigen-specific T cells. If this candidate would be able to obtain the functional cure in at least a proportion of patients it could be applicable to developing countries and would improve the care and cost of HIV infection.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: Health | Award Amount: 3.04M | Year: 2014

The objective of this proposal is to urgently determine the efficacy, safety and feasibility of convalescent whole blood (CWB) and convalescent plasma (CP) therapy, as a treatment for patients with Ebola Viral Disease (EVD) to reduce the case fatality rate in the present EVD epidemic in West Africa. The trial will take place in three consecutive phases; i) initial phase to initiate harmonized standard supportive care (SC), ii) evaluation of CWB iii) evaluation of CP. Supportive care (SC) including intravenous hydration and shock management will be standardised and made available to all patients. Day 14 mortality will be used to determine primary outcome. Survival for patients treated with CWB \ SC or CP \ SC will be compared to SC alone using a non-randomised open-label design. Based on available figures, a 20% decrease in the case fatality rate will be considered proof of clinical efficacy. Internationally agreed stands of ethics and human rights will be applied for the duration of the trial. Written consent will be requested from patients and/or guardians of patients. Every consideration will be given to the safely of health-care workers involved in the trial, including their consent to be involved and adequate training and psycho-emotional support. Given the study context, community communication will be prioritized. We propose a unique partnership of academics, clinical trial units, non-governmental organizations, international research networks, international and local actors to conduct a clinical trial according to the highest standards attainable in the current context. If found to be effective, this intervention can be scaled-up relatively rapidly as the trial will provide the information required to mobilize local partners, with major public health implications.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: HCO-05-2014 | Award Amount: 3.34M | Year: 2015

Background: Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and pre-diabetes contribute increasingly to the global burden of disease with the health systems struggling to effectively manage prevention and control. This necessitates contextually appropriate, policy relevant solutions with high scale-up potential. The study is built on a consortium experienced in implementation and cross-cultural translation of disease prevention and management. We aim to strengthen capacity for T2DM care including prevention in high-risk population, through proven strategies like task shifting to community health workers, and expanding care networks through community-based peer support groups. Methods: A phased, participatory approach with built-in on-going policy dialogue will be used for implementing and testing a complex intervention in three countries representing low-, middle- and high-income settings: rural Uganda, urban South Africa and vulnerable immigrant populations in urban Sweden. These actions will follow an iterative process with modifications and improvements within and between the stages of formative research to implementation and evaluation. The testing will be conducted with a controlled design in two arms, a facility-only strategy vs. a combined facility and community strategy evaluated in terms of health systems, disease-related and equity outcomes. Outcomes: The study has a strong social innovations component that will leverage existing networks and platforms, to empower patients, their families and communities through the self-management approach. It will embed research into policy and practice from the beginning; and enable cross-lessons from other chronic conditions and reciprocal learning. It will re-introduce the essential but missing community component still existing in low- and middle-income countries back to the health system of a high-income country in a contextually appropriate form, which is relevant for Europe in tackling T2DM and other chronic conditions.


Guzman M.G.,Institute of Tropical Medicine | Harris E.,University of California at Berkeley
The Lancet | Year: 2015

Summary Dengue viruses have spread rapidly within countries and across regions in the past few decades, resulting in an increased frequency of epidemics and severe dengue disease, hyperendemicity of multiple dengue virus serotypes in many tropical countries, and autochthonous transmission in Europe and the USA. Today, dengue is regarded as the most prevalent and rapidly spreading mosquito-borne viral disease of human beings. Importantly, the past decade has also seen an upsurge in research on dengue virology, pathogenesis, and immunology and in development of antivirals, vaccines, and new vector-control strategies that can positively impact dengue control and prevention. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd.


Gryseels B.,Institute of Tropical Medicine
Infectious Disease Clinics of North America | Year: 2012

Schistosomiasis is a tropical parasitic disease, caused by blood-dwelling worms of the genus Schistosoma. The main human species are S mansoni (occurring in Africa and South America) and S japonicum (South and East Asia) causing intestinal and hepatosplenic schistosomiasis, and S haematobium (Africa) causing urinary schistosomiasis. Severe symptoms develop in predilected people with heavy and long-standing infections. Acute schistosomiasis, a flulike syndrome, is a regular finding in travel clinics. Although prevalences can be high, most infected people show limited, intermittent, or aspecific symptoms. The diagnosis of schistosomiasis relies on microscopic examination of stools or urine, serologic tests, and imaging. Praziquantel is the drug of choice, active against all species in a single or a few oral doses. Current control strategies consist mainly of preventive therapy in communities or groups at risk. © 2012.

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