Issue 5:

April 2023

ERA4TB celebrates the project mid-point

In January 2023, ERA4TB celebrated the mid-point of the project, having completed three years of the six-year project duration.

ERA4TB’s key achievements over the last 3 years include:

  • 9 molecules and 1 combination entered into the pipeline during the first 3 years of the project. 9 additional molecules are foreseen to enter the pipeline in the second half of the project.
  • Eight benchmarking tests in are progress to address the needs of the envisaged progression plans and to allow prioritizing combinations.
  • Integration of a total of 50 data sources into the ERA4TB data platform which includes 24 sources generated as part of the project pipeline.

Going forward the focus is on continuing to build capacity within our work packages and increase our collaboration with other partners. We are pleased to be working ever-closer with our fellow IMI-project, UNITE4TB, with a new cross-leadership group established in December 2022.

ERA4TB 6th Consortium Meeting: Paris

The sixth ERA4TB Consortium Meeting took place in Paris on the 25 and 26th January 2023 and was hosted by the Institut Pasteur.

The meeting marked the mid-point of the project and provided time to reflect on the last three years work and look ahead to the next three.

More than 100 representatives of ERA4TB partners met in person to share updates and discuss the upcoming activities for the second half of the project.

ERA4TB partners gave presentations on progression and capacity creation. Other topics such as data flows and platforms, project management and sustainability were also discussed.

Additionally, a satellite workshop to discuss ‘Biomarkers of tuberculosis treatment efficacy’ took place the day before the consortium meeting.

The meeting was attended by ERA4TB Scientific Advisory Board members, Gilla Kaplan and Francesca Conradie who provided feedback on the project’s progression and future plans:

“The […] question […] is whether what you are building is addressing a need rather than a scientific problem, and I think it is clear that you are addressing a need” – Gilla Kaplan (SAB member)

“From the programme I work in there are about 200 cases of extensively drug resistant (XDR) TB in South Africa, and I have seen transmission, so we really need to be looking at whether the new drugs that are coming along are suitable for the most resistant cases” – Francesca Conradie (SAB member)

World Tuberculosis Day

Friday 24 March 2023

World TB Day is commemorated each year to raise awareness of the devastating health, social and economic consequences of tuberculosis.

To coincide with World Tuberculosis Day, ERA4TB partnered with UNITE4TB on a webinar and social media campaign focused on the importance of community-centred research.

The webinar titled, ‘Community engagement and involvement in early-stage TB research’ took place on Thursday 23 March 2023. The webinar included a panel discussion with members of the UNITE4TB Community Advisory Group (CAG) as well as ERA4TB researchers, patient advocates and a TB survivor.

Watch a recording of the webinar

A social media campaign ran alongside the webinar showcasing quotes from key members of both projects on the importance of community-centred research. Visit the ERA4TB and UNITE4TB Twitter and LinkedIn accounts for more information.

AMR Accelerator Cross-project meeting and 7th AMR Conference

In March 2023, ERA4TB members attended two key events focused on bringing together researchers and project members working in the fields of tuberculosis and Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR).

On 15th March 2023, the 4th AMR Cross-project meeting was held in Basel. The meeting brought together all the AMR Accelerator partners. Following the cross-project meeting, the 7th AMR Conference was also held in Basel, focusing on the topic of Novel Antimicrobials and AMR diagnostics. ERA4TB’s Ainhoa Lucía Quintana, Assistant Professor at the University of Zaragoza and Santiago Ferrer Bazaga, Investigator and Scientific Advisor for Drug Discovery at the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, presented in the ‘Towards better treatment combination against tuberculosis’ session.

Read more about this

AMR Accelerator Communication Champions Social Media Campaign

The AMR Accelerator have organised an ‘audiogram’ twitter campaign to publicise the nine different projects that make up the programme. An audio quote from each project is being posted on the AMR Accelerator Twitter page, the first being launched on World TB day.

ERA4TB’s external communications and engagement, lead Katharine Cresswell, has featured speaking about the project’s achievements over the last 3 years and future plans. Listen to the audiogram on Twitter now.

ERA4TB at the World Congress of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology, Glasgow

July 2023
In July, ERA4TB will be hosting a session at the 19th World Congress of Basic & Clinical Pharmacology 2023 called:

‘ERA4TB – Closing the gap between early bacterial activity and clinical cure’
The session will be chaired by ERA4TB’s In Vitro work package lead, Dr. Santiago Ramon Garcia, and Modelling and simulation work package lead, Prof. Oscar della Pasqua. It will include presentations on novel in vitro tools to inform pre-clinical and clinical progression of TB combination therapy, selection of companion drugs and dose rationale for combination therapy, and modelling of the immune response and prediction of treatment relapse.

Find out more on the symposium website

Spotlight on Work Package 4 (Imaging):

We recently interviewed Juan José Vaquero, Imaging work package lead at the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) in Spain, to learn more about the work he and his teams are undertaking, key achievements to-date and his ambitions for the project.

The full interview is available on the Blog page. Some highlights from the interview are below.

Can you give us an overview of Work Package 4 (WP4)?
WP4’s main mission is to develop cross-cutting, translational imaging technologies for drug development, applied from single cells to tissue specimens and to in vivo (animal) subjects. Imaging is a quick, efficient technology to diagnose and assess the status of a patient infected with TB. We aim to identify image-based, translational biomarkers that predict efficacy of the treatment. Examples include seeing how well a drug enters and is distributed within cells that make up TB lesions, measuring how much cells respond when exposed to a drug, and providing non-invasive ways of seeing how animals respond to TB treatments.

What have been the key achievements in ERA4TB to date?
We have a pipeline populated with new compounds that are progressing satisfactorily. We also have two first in-human trials underway and several relevant scientific results published. If we compare our original work plan with the current state of the project, we can say that we have almost made up for the huge delay introduced by the covid-19 pandemic. This is a clear sign of the vitality and status of ERA4TB.

What have you most enjoyed about being part of ERA4TB?
Being the Coordinator of such a large and complex project as ERA4TB is a challenge that forces me to keep moving forward and learning tirelessly, and the results of this learning I am also transferring to all my collaborators at UC3M. And, without a doubt, I am amazed by the panel of top scientists and institutions I am working with, I feel really honoured to be able to share this project with all of them.

Read the interview in full here

ERA4TB Portfolio Status

Overview of ERA4TB Asset Progression Plans (APPs). At present, 7 different molecules are being progressed on the ERA4TB pipeline where in-vivo, in-vitro, preclinical development activities and First-in-Human studies are being undertaken in parallel, as shown below. In addition, one Combination Progression Plan is being implemented.

Upcoming events and activities

  • Workshop on Host Immune System-Pathogen Interactions: Challenges and Opportunities: 12th and 13th April 2023 – for ERA4TB members only
  • ERA4TB 7th Consortium Meeting: 15-16th June 2023 – for ERA4TB members only
  • 19th World Congress of Basic & Clinical Pharmacology 2023: 2-7 July 2023, sign up at WCP2023 – World Congress of Basic & Clinical Pharmacology
  • 57th edition of the International Conference on Medicinal Chemistry (RICT 2023) – Drug Discovery and Selection: 5-7 July, sign up at RICT 2023 – Registration

Recent dissemination activities

  • 7th AMR conference – Novel Antimicrobials and AMR Diagnostics: (16-17 March 2023): ERA4TB presented at the conference in Basel
  • 4th IMI AMR accelerator, cross project meeting (15 March 2023)
  • New Researcher profile: Find out more about Silvia Grandoni, a post-doctoral researcher working in the Modelling and Simulation work package of ERA4TB (WP5).
  • World Evidence-Based Healthcare Day (20 October 2022): Katharine Cresswell from NICE published a blog on how partnerships are driving new treatments for TB.
  • Challenges to tuberculosis drug development and access webinar (24 November 2022): To mark World Antimicrobial Awareness Week, ERA4TB launched it’s new webinar series. The first webinar was chaired by Alberto Borobia and included presentations from ERA4TB SAB member Francesca Conradie & NICE Scientific Adviser, Sophie Cooper. Hosted by ERA4TB partner member, NICE, there were over 100 attendees. A recording of the webinar is available here.