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Ebola emergency call September 2018: research response to the DRC outbreak

8 October 2018

On 3 September 2018, EDCTP launched a €2.25 million emergency funding initiative in response to Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). This emergency call was open for proposals for seven days. After three weeks, five out of nine proposals were given the go-ahead to start as soon as possible, to make sure no time is lost to start the necessary clinical studies of diagnostics, therapeutics and epidemiology which can only be done in the hopefully short period of the Ebola outbreak.

“Gratefully, we managed to respond quickly to the latest Ebola emergency. The proposals address some of the most pressing questions raised by responders to the ongoing EVD outbreaks. I thank all who contributed to this fast result: researchers, expert reviewers, our staff, the EDCTP Board, and especially the European Commission who created the legal and financial room to launch this initiative.”

Dr Michael Makanga, EDCTP Executive Director

Approved projects from the call

Five consortia were informed (ahead of finalising the grant agreement preparations) that the projects funded under this initiative may commence immediately with the date of submission of their respective proposals as the earliest possible starting date.

  • The AdjustEBOVGP-Dx project aims to develop biochemical treatments that adjust native Ebola virus glycoproteine (EBOV GP) in patient sample as a target for rapid diagnostic testing. The project is expected to yield the first prototypes of rapid diagnostic tests for the duo-detection of EBOV and Marburg virus (MARV).
  • The EPIRISK-Ebov study will assess the EBOV cross-sectional seroprevalence as well as the incidence of a longitudinal seroconversion. The presence of EBOV and possible additional pathogens will be determined via pan-domain molecular approaches following a pathogen enrichment method.
  • The CAPA-CT II project aims to generate knowledge relevant to the potential spread of the EVD outbreak in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to the Republic of Uganda. The project also intends generate local knowledge for interpretation of pharmacokinetic data generated through MEURI [Monitored Emergency Use of Unregistered Interventions], drug interactions with antiretroviral drugs and to inform future treatment optimisation approaches.
  • The PEAU-EBOV-DRC aims to improve the management, both therapeutic and diagnostic, of patients with EVD through the application of an optimal standard of care, by focussing on 2 out 12 research priorities identified by the DRC Ministry of Health: 1) to coordinate the design and support the rapid implementation of efficacy trials to evaluate therapeutic product candidates, and 2) to strengthen the DRC’s capacity for the safe handling, diagnosis and reporting of major diseases caused by haemorrhagic fever viruses.
  • The MobEBO-DRC project aims to train teams in DRC and expand capacity for recombinase polymerase amplification (RPA) testing to the differentials recommended by the WHO. The project will use a mobile suitcase laboratory for EBOV point-of-care  detection at Ebola treatment centers which was successfully implemented in Guinea during the large EVD outbreak in West-Africa 2014-2015.

“I am proud we completed this call in record time. Many thanks go to the researchers who responded to a seven days call, and to our experts reviewers who worked with us day and night, complying with impossible deadlines, as we all agreed that emergency means emergency.”

Jean Marie Vianney Habarugira, EDCTP Project Officer

Call process

EDCTP launched the emergency call for proposals on 3 September 2018 with a call budget of €2.25 million in response to the EVD outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The Emergency Call was open for 7 days and closed on 10 September 2018

The call focused the following research priorities:

  • Clinical trials for therapeutics
  • Diagnostics for screening and identification of affected individuals
  • Clinical and epidemiological studies

Nine applications were submitted and eligible for further review.

From 11-14 September 2018, an expedited review procedure took place. Leading experts were requested to assess in a very short time the proposals and provide a ranked list to the EDCTP secretariat.

The ranking was approved by the EDCTP Board on 20 September 2018, and on 24 September, the lead applicants of the five top ranking proposals were invited to start preparations for the grant agreement. At the same time, these five consortia were informed that projects funded under this initiative could commence immediately with the date of submission of the proposal being the earliest possible starting date.

More information

Summaries of the five proposals under grant preparation (PDF)

WHO: Update: Ebola treatments approved for compassionate use in current outbreak (28 September 2018)