The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) has been awarded grant funding totalling $46.4 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and $12.7 million from other partners, to help find new and effective ways of treating and preventing malaria, tuberculosis (TB) and HIV/AIDS.
The Malaria Centre at LSHTM is one of the most active malaria research groupings worldwide. The School currently co-ordinates the Gates Malaria Partnership (GMP), which was established in 2001 with a $40 million grant from the BMGF to support malaria research and capacity development in Africa.
The GMP has supported research in a broad range of fields relevant to the treatment and prevention of malaria in endemic areas, and its research has led to over 300 publications in peer-reviewed journals. The partnership has established three malaria training centres in Africa and supported over twenty African scientists to obtain a PhD degree in an area relevant to the treatment or control of malaria in their country. The GMP will formally come to an end in December 2008 but new grants from the Gates Foundation to LSHTM, and other organisations including the Wellcome Trust will allow many of its initiatives to continue.
The largest grant announced today, for $39,795,736.00 through October 2012, will support the ACT Consortium, which includes almost 50 academic institutions in Africa, Asia, Europe and the USA. The ACT Consortium will conduct a co-ordinated research programme to identify how best to optimize the delivery and cost-effectiveness of combination drug treatment for malaria in Africa and Asia, and across a range of epidemiological and healthcare settings. This will include work on improving access to antimalarials, better targeting and diagnosis, determining drug side-effects and detecting counterfeit drugs. The research coordinated from LSHTM will be undertaken by a consortium of academic institutions including Dangwe West Research Centre in Ghana, International Health Research Development Centre in Tanzania, the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, the National Institute of Medical Research at the University of Copenhagen, and the University of Cape Town.
Professor Christopher Whitty is the Principal Investigator for the ACT Consortium. He comments: ‘We are delighted. There have been great strides forward in developing new drugs. We now have to start to get them to the people who need them. The funding by the Gates Foundation to these studies on four continents, but concentrating on Africa, will help determine how best to achieve this’.
Dr. Regina Rabinovich, Director of Infectious Diseases Development for the Gates Foundation, says: ‘The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and its partners have introduced new momentum and collaboration into the fight against malaria in recent years. The new initiatives announced today will address critical unanswered questions, and bring us closer to the day when malaria is eradicated from the world’.
Professor Greenwood, Director of GMP, will lead research on seasonal intermittent treatment of malaria in children, with support from a separate Gates Foundation grant for $2.99 million. This is a promising new approach to the prevention of malaria in young children in areas where the transmission of malaria is seasonal. Early trials of this intervention were carried out in children who were generally not using an insecticide treated bed net (ITN). The new studies, to be conducted in Burkina Faso, Ghana and Mali, will investigate whether intermittent preventive treatment is equally effective in children who sleep under an ITN.
LSHTM is a partner in a large-scale project to implement intermittent preventive treatment in children in Senegal, led by the University of Dakar, Senegal which is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. LSHTM is providing epidemiological, statistical and other support to this trial through a grant of $986,000 from the University of Dakar. Dr. Paul Milligan is the leading LSHTM investigator on this project.
The School will also receive support from the Malaria in Pregnancy Consortium, which recently received a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and which is being coordinated by the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. The LSHTM grants, which total $7,671,714, will support four major activities: a multi-centre trial based in India and other countries in South East Asia comparing the safety and efficacy of two new antimalarial drug combinations during pregnancy, and a strategy aimed at reducing the burden of malaria during pregnancy in India by determining the efficacy of insecticide-treated nets, intermittent preventive treatment (IPTP) and intermittent screening and treatment (both led by Dr. Daniel Chandramohan); a trial of seasonal IPTP use in west Africa (led by Professor Brian Greenwood) and studies looking at the determinants of pregnant women’s access to health care and the cost and affordability of scaling up prevention and treatment strategies under different epidemiological and economic conditions (Kara Hanson and Jayne Webster).
Ulrich Schaible, Professor in Immunology, has received a Gates Foundation grant of $3.6 million over two years to develop a reporter imaging system to test the efficacy of TB drugs.
The project will be based in the School’s Category 3 facility, and the LSHTM team will lead a consortium which also includes the Barts and the London NHS Trust, Imperial College, London, the National Institute for Medical Research in London, and the Foundation for Research and Technology - Hellas (FORTH), based in Heraklion, Crete. The research aims to develop a straightforward, affordable imaging system which will help to find and identify new, efficient drugs for TB, especially those which act against latent or persistent bacteria, which are found in 90% of affected people.
Professor Schaible says: ‘We are delighted to have received this funding. We will now be able to establish the first ever imaging system of its kind in the world, which will be based here at the School, and which will enable us to track what happens to bacteria after treatment, and thereby learn more about which drugs work best in the fight against tuberculosis’.
The School is receiving a further $5 million of funding from the International Planned Parenthood Federation, for research into the benefits and costs of a range of models for delivering integrated HIV and sexual and reproductive health services in Kenya and Swaziland, and their effects on reducing HIV risk, associated stigma, and unintended pregnancies. The Prime Investigator for this project are Susannah Mayhew and Charlotte Watts.
Professor Sir Andrew Haines, Director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, comments: ‘I am delighted to announce these awards to staff of the School which reflect both the excellence of the proposed research programmes and their relevance to global health priorities. They will generate important new knowledge to improve the prospects for effective treatment and prevention of malaria, TB and HIV which threaten the lives of millions of people around the world and build on the major achievements arising from previous research at LSHTM’.
For further information about any of the grants, or to speak to the Principal Investigators, please contact the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine Press Office on 020 7927 2802/2073 or email firstname.lastname@example.org