Projects join forces to strengthen flow cytometry capacity in Africa

Knowledge sharing and capacity building are key to advance scientific research and innovation. One of the main objectives of the PREV_PKDL project, funded by the European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP2) Programme supported by the European Union, is to strengthen immunology research capacity in East Africa by promoting the development of a flow cytometry Centre of Excellence.

To achieve this goal, flow cytometers were installed at the four African sites (IEND, Sudan; KEMRI, Kenya; University of Gondar, Ethiopia; University of Makerere, Uganda) and flow managers identified to create a nucleus of highly skilled experts able to foster further local research and training in their own countries.

Within the flow cytometry training programme provided by the University of York to the PREV_PKDL African partners, collaborations have been established with the CREDO project to extend the training to colleagues at the Institut National de la Recherche Biomédicale (INRB) located in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The CREDO project is funded by the Belgian Development Cooperation and is launched by the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp. It aims at improving the health of the Congolese population through building capacity for research in new and (re)emerging diseases.

This collaborative effort highlights the potential of the flow cytometry Centre of Excellence in promoting research activities and capacity building in Africa, creating value that will underpin future vaccine and drug trials for diseases affecting these regions.

PREV_PKDL is a €8M collaborative project funded by the European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP2) Programme supported by the European Union. The project is the joint effort of leading European and African experts with proven track records in research and development of products against leishmaniasis.

In addition to supporting a leishmaniasis vaccine clinical trial in Sudan, PREV_PKDL aims to to better understand the disease as well as drug and vaccine responses, by conducting multidimensional, multiparameter phenotyping  on patient cohorts recruited across the countries of the Leishmaniasis East Africa Platform (LEAP; Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan and Uganda).

Launched in 2003 with the support of the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), LEAP brings together scientists and institutions in East Africa to develop clinical trial capacity to bring new treatment options to Leishmaniasis patients in this region. A major aim of PREV_PKDL is to support LEAP in its ambitions, by extending its research capacity in immunology and vaccine development. This will be achieved through a program to strengthen immunology research capacity through the development of a flow cytometry network across LEAP. This capacity strengthening will help LEAP to develop as a major force for research and training on poverty-related neglected diseases in the East African Region.

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