Newsletter

Issue 1:

May 2021

Our Project

ERA4TB (European Regimen Accelerator for Tuberculosis) project is a public-private initiative devoted to accelerating the development of new treatment regimens for tuberculosis. The ERA4TB platform is based on a progression pipeline that can cater simultaneously for a variety of molecules at different stages of development.

ERA4TB is building a solid network of collaborations across Europe and the US with the ambition of creating a novel world-class platform for the effective acceleration of new anti-TB drugs and regimens. This new platform, conceived to operate also beyond the life of the project, will integrate, maintain and further advance a set of cutting-edge drug development processes and tools for the effective acceleration of anti-TB drug combinations. Among the state-of-art solutions included in the platform are hollow fiber systems, single cell time-lapse analysis, imaging in animal models, new biomarkers and host/pathogen interactions and virulence approaches, drug-disease modelling, physiologically-based predictive modelling, artificial intelligence data mining and clinical trial simulation techniques.

Until the onset of the Sars-COV-2 pandemic, tuberculosis was the leading cause of death by an infectious disease worldwide. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 10 million people became ill with tuberculosis in 2019, and 1.4 million died. (Global Tuberculosis Report 2020)

Our Consortium

The project consortium integrates 30 organizations, namely seven prestigious academic institutions (UC3M, UNIZAR, UU, EPFL, UKÖ, UNIPD, UPV), four non-profit organizations (IPP, IPL, iM4TB, BAR), eight public research organizations (FZB, CNR, IDMIT, SERMAS, PHE, NICE, SCI, IOS) and five highly skilled small-medium enterprises (SYNAPSE, C-Path, IBT, QPS, GRIT42), together with three EFPIA members (GSK, EVT, JANSSEN), and three IMI2 Associated Partners (BMGF, TBA, DDU).

The consortium met in Madrid during two days on the 29th and 30th of January 2020 to begin a new adventure.

On January 26th and 27th 2021 the second Consortium Meeting took place online to share the developments during the first year of project implementation and discuss critical topics for TB research.

Nearly 150 people joined the event and provided strong contributions during these two days of productive discussions, including plenary sessions, workshops, tutorials and open sessions.

All Member States of WHO and the UN have committed to the goal of ending the TB epidemic by 2030 through their unanimous endorsement of the WHO End TB Strategy at the World Health Assembly and their adoption of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Spotlight on: Our project leads

Our consortium is led by:

Prof. Juan José Vaquero, who is the Vice-President for Scientific Policy at UC3M. A full professor of Bioengineering of the Department of Bioengineering and Aerospace Engineering, UC3M, and senior researcher at the Instituto de Investigación Sanitaria Gregorio Marañón (IiSGM), Juan is an innovator in biomedical imaging technologies with a successful record of inventions in preclinical imaging, and important scientific contributions in the applications of those technologies.

Prof. Stewart Cole, a world leader in the field of tuberculosis research and internationally acclaimed for his achievements in TB drug discovery and development, with two drug candidates currently in clinical trials.  Stewart has authored >350 publications (h-index= 85, web of science) and is an inventor on several TB drug patents. Stewart leads the input of our partner Institut Pasteur (IPP), a private, French state-approved non-profit foundation, which is one of the most prestigious health research institutions in the world.

Dr David Barros, Vice-president, Head of GSK´s Global Head Pharma Research. Dr Barros has Coordinated several EC funded (FP7, H2020) consortia in TB research and leads the Medicines Development Centre of GSK in Tres Cantos, an open innovation R&D Centre with +25 years of activity, a BSL-3 level lab and many collaborative projects in Global Health, AMR and Pandemic Preparedness, focused mainly on Tuberculosis, Malaria, Enteric Diseases and, most recently, COVID-19.

“ERA4TB will change the paradigm for the development of new TB drugs by adopting a flexible and modular collaboration scheme in which research efforts can be rapidly mobilized to where they are most needed allowing several molecules to be investigated simultaneously. This will save both time and money.” Juan José Vaquero, project coordinator from UC3M (University Carlos III Madrid) and leader of the imaging team

Our progress to date

      • Asset Progression Plans: ERA4TB has already endorsed twelve specific Asset Progression Plans for six different compounds which are in progress, two already in Phase 1 studies
      • Drug Development Information Management (DDIM) system: ERA4TB has also established the DDIM, which is a hardware and software platform conceived to enable project partners to upload, retrieve and curate experimental data generated in the project and access data from other initiatives. The DDIM serves as a gateway for other subsystems handling the data from the preclinical in vitro and in vivo, imaging and clinical domains.
      • New PET/CT imager in Biosafety Level 3 facilities: The PET-CT imager for mice models is close to be installed at GSK BSL3 facilities. This key equipment will allow for a non-invasive drug efficacy monitoring through the extraction of image-based biomarkers, contributing to a faster, safer regime translation to clinical phases. Moreover, the equipment will be the platform for the development of new metabolic image biomarkers for TB that could eventually be used in the accurate diagnosis of TB patients.

Our dissemination activities

      • ERA4TB project was strongly represented at the 51st Union World conference on lung health and was actively involved in the organization of online sessions at the conference. Read More.
      • On World TB Day (24 March 2021), the UC3M organized a Webinar with the participation of Spanish partners UNIZAR, GSK, SERMAS and other invited institutions. It was a local webinar aiming to disseminate ERA4TB action to the general audience.
      • As part of the AMR Accelerator, ERA4TB contributes regularly to its Newsletter: Under the Microscope and News Updates which include news about the seven projects under the Accelerator’s umbrella.

Upcoming activities and events

Meetings: Our next consortium meeting will take place in June 2021.
For more information: Follow our updates on our website and social media channels!

Know how accelerate the development of new treatment regimens for tuberculosis, discover our project

The Project