Partners Met For The Third Annual Consortium Meeting In Maputo

The third Annual Consortium Meeting of PreFIT was successfully hosted in Maputo from 16 to 18 April 2024

From the 16th to the 18th of April, participants from 6 institutions involved in the PreFIT study successfully met for the third Annual Consortium Meeting, which this year took place in Maputo, Mozambique.

Makerere University in Uganda, the Manhiça Health Research Centre (CISM) in Mozambique, Stellenbosch University (SU) in South Africa, International experts from the Amsterdam Institute for Global Health and Development (AIGHD) in the Netherlands, the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) in Spain, the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) in Switzerland gathered for two days of fruitful discussions to evaluate the next steps and the future of the PreFIT project.

“PreFIT will provide data on whether certain point-of-care biomarkers can identify which close contacts exposed to a bacteriologically confirmed TB patient are more likely to develop tuberculosis. PreFIT has already completed recruitment of index TB patients and close contacts and is currently completing the month 6 and month 12 visits for all TB contacts enrolled in the study at the three participating sites.” commented Alberto García-Basteiro, WP4 leader.

Latent TB infection (LTBI) with Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M.TB) affects approximately 25% of the globe. While people infected with M.TB cannot spread tuberculosis, it’s crucial to understand when or if they will develop the active disease, the transmissible form of TB. This can help decide who would benefit the most from preventive treatment, and at the same time, to break the chain of transmission and reduce the TB burden globally.

PreFIT aims to contribute to this goal by testing ready-to-use candidate assays for incipient TB and ultimately providing affordable solutions to scale up preventive treatment in Africa and beyond. Focusing on household contacts in Mozambique, Uganda, and South Africa, PreFIT ended its recruitment in January 2024 with more than 3000 people participating in the study.

“The end of recruitment was a success, and we managed to reach the goal that was set for us. The study will still follow up with these participants accordingly, with visits at M6 and M12, and I believe that by the end of the follow-up, our retention rate will be satisfactory.” Paricia Manjate, laboratory coordinator at CISM.

Following the good practice established in Kampala last year, the Annual Meeting started with a unique day dedicated to joint activities with Stool4TB, an EDCTP2-funded study aiming at evaluating a new stool-based qPCR for diagnosis of Tuberculosis in children and people living with HIV, and CAGE-TB, a project aiming at improving TB screening by using a smartphone app that can detect a TB cough, also funded by EDCTP2.

PhD students involved in PreFIT, Stool4TB, and CAGE-TB had the opportunity to present their research and receive feedback from renowned experts on tuberculosis. As highlighted by Arthur Chiwaya, PhD candidate at Stellenbosch University:

“Presenting at a joint PhD symposium offers invaluable networking opportunities, fostering interdisciplinary collaborations and knowledge exchange among scholars. At the recent symposium I attended, I gained insights into the research projects of fellow students and explored potential avenues for collaboration. This has resulted in agreements to share specimens, data, and other resources, with plans to publish jointly. Additionally, the platform provided valuable guidance on refining my research design, data analysis techniques, and presentation skills.”

As stressed by Frank Cobelens, PreFIT project coordinator, we are now in the most critical stretch of the project, with just one year to go before presenting the final results. After two days of rewarding discussions, the Third Annual Consortium Meeting closed with enthusiasm about the next phase: the results PreFIT will get from the follow-up of participants.

The pictures were taken during the PreFIT Annual Meeting of 2024 in Maputo, Mozambique