New Zealand’s University of Otago researchers are participating in a larger clinical investigation—a €4.8 million international study in how to prevent tuberculosis in diabetes patients. The study is led by the European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership. The study addresses an imminent spike in tuberculosis (TB) and its association to diabetes.

The Problem

Over 11 million people develop TB each year while as many as 1.4 million will die from the disease. Researchers have found that diabetes may be a key factor driving the global TB epidemic. Apparently, diabetes increases the risk of TB as well as intensifies the impact leading to an upturn in deaths. With 425 million worldwide living with diabetes, and the overall risks of greater crisis grow with increases of the disease in sub-Saharan African and other settings with a high burden of TB.

The Study

Known as the European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership, Professor Philip Hill and others from the University of Otago will play an active role in this initiative supported by the European Union.  This global consortium is led by a seasoned tram of scientists and clinicians in the Netherlands, Uganda, Tanzania, UK, and New Zealand.

In this study, up to 3,000 diabetic patients with latent TB infection in Uganda and Tanzania will receive 12 weekly doses of preventive treatment or placebo and followed over two years so that the investigators can assess the efficacy of the treatment.

In parallel to this form of clinical trial, the investigators will follow 1,000 people in these countries that do not have evidence of latent TB infection so they can confirm the risk of TB in this group is indeed too low to warrant preventive treatment. Professor Hill notes in the University of Otago originated press release: “If we are successful, this intervention could see a significant reduction in the burden of TB worldwide.”

What is the European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership?

This organization represents a partnership between the European Union (EU), Norway, Switzerland and developing nations and other donors as well as the pharmaceutical industry to enable clinical trials and the development of new medicines and vaccines against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis (TB) and malaria.

University of Otago: A Special Place

Based in Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand, this university has ranked second to the University of Auckland in the number of A-rated academic researchers it employs and ranks overall second in the nation, according to The World University Rankings.

And historically, Otago has topped the New Zealand Performance Based Research Fund evaluation. This public research university, according to “Top Universities,” has a “very high” ranking for research output

This prestigious Kiwi institution goes back to 1869 when created by a committee led by Thomas Burns—making it the oldest university in New Zealand and the third-oldest in Oceania. It has been declared one of the world’s most beautiful university campuses.

Lead Research/Investigator

Philip Hill, Professor, Co-director, Centre for International Health; McAuley Professor of International Health

Katrina Sharples, Professor

Source: University of Otago

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