The EChiLiBRiST consortium (https://echilibrist.org/consortium/), led by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), met for the first time on 8-10th February in Barcelona to address its objectives and work plan. EChiLiBRiST is a 5-year project, funded by Horizon Europe Research and Innovation Program, which aims to develop and validate a rapid test for early recognition and improved management of febrile children at risk of severe diseases. EChiLiBRiST consortium is formed by 13 research institutions from Europe, Africa and North America, with interdisciplinary profiles including academic and research partners, as well as industrial partners and companies.
Fever is a cardinal signal of infectious diseases and over two billion episodes are recorded every year globally. On average, a child under five years of age in sub-Saharan Africa experiences up to six episodes of fever annually. Although most episodes are mild and self-limiting, some can progress to life-threatening disease. Severe infections are difficult to recognize, a common issue in healthcare; however, in sub-Saharan Africa, the issue is worsened due to the limited trained clinicians and diagnostic tools available. There, up to 70% of the severe infections are missed, leading to high mortality and long-term sequelae, particularly in children. Conversely, in all health care systems worldwide, most fevers referred to a tertiary hospital are mild infections, a huge misallocation of resources. The EU-funded Project EChiLiBRiST will develop and trial a rapid test for the early recognition and management of febrile patients at risk of severe disease, to help reduce mortality and optimize health care resources where most is needed.
During the first two years, the project will focus on product development, work led by BioEclosion and the Autonomous University of Barcelona, owning a novel detection platform that will be used to measure the severity biomarkers of interest, sTREM-1 and Angpt-2, at the point-of-care. The regulatory strategy will be led by Asphalion. After, the project will focus on implementing two multi-country clinical trials in the three African sites: Fundaçao Manhiça – The Manhiça Health Research Center (CISM, Mozambique), Centre de Recherches Médicales in Lambaréné (CERMEL, Gabon), and Haramaya University in Harar (Ethiopia), under general leadership of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and ISGlobal. Briefly, Clinical Trial 1 will focus on validating a new triaging strategy enhanced by using the levels of severity biomarkers (i.e. sTREM-1, Angpt-2) on top of the standard of care triaging practices. On the other hand, because these biomarkers linked to severity can be modulated, Clinical Trial 2 will focus on assessing L-Citrulline effectiveness to improve outcomes in admitted febrile children at risk of death.
Beyond a rigorous clinical assessment of the developed rapid test and biomarkers-based strategies, EChiLiBRiST will assess cost-effectiveness, feasibility, acceptability and scalability of the interventions, generating data and models to show the potential impact and cost-savings of the interventions in different scenarios. Additionally, EChiLiBRiST is fully committed to research capacity building in the African participating countries (Mozambique, Gabon and Ethiopia), which includes the training of 3 African graduates with different disciplinary backgrounds to obtain their PhD on an EChiLiBRiST related topic.
For more information on the EChiLiBRiST project, please check its recently launched project website (https://echilibrist.org/).