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The Enable Lassa Research Programme, the largest Lassa fever study ever, is the subject of a workshop that is being held by scientists from West Africa to discuss and evaluate progress.
The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations funded the study, which aims to provide a more in-depth analysis of the Lassa fever epidemic in West Africa.
While the project is also being carried out in Benin, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, the Nigerian portion of the study is being led by the Nigeria Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Abuja will host the event from Saturday, October 22, to Monday, October 24.
Infected rodents typically transmit Lassa fever to humans, and severe cases may result in a hemorrhagic fever with a high risk of death.According to a press release that was jointly signed by CEPI and the NCDC, Enable aims to provide a better understanding of the actual Lassa disease burden across West Africa—where there are frequent outbreaks. The WHO recognizes it as a disease with the potential for an epidemic.
It said, among other things, “Launched in late 2020, Enable aims to provide a better understanding of the true Lassa disease burden across West Africa—where there are regular outbreaks—and to guide the development of vaccines against this epidemic threat.” This was one of the sections of the article.CEPI, which is established as one of the largest global funders of Lassa fever research, established the Enable program and provided its funding.
“Lassa fever, which was first discovered over fifty years ago, is typically spread when a person comes into contact with the body fluids of the infected rodent species Mastomys natalensis, also known as the Natal multimammate mouse or rat, or food and other materials that have been contaminated by the urine, feces, and saliva of the animal.
Although uncommon, human-to-human transmission is possible.The majority of cases are asymptomatic, but severe cases can cause bleeding, fever, body pain, and death in about 1% of those infected.
“The World Health Organization R&D Blueprint listed Lassa Fever as one of nine emerging infectious diseases that urgently require research and development activities in recognition of its epidemic potential and disease burden in the West African region.
“Recent modeling data suggests that climate change could cause Lassa fever to spread to other areas of the African continent. The disease is endemic in parts of West Africa.
“A lack of formal and standard clinical diagnoses for the illness and variability in symptoms hinder current knowledge about the annual burden of clinical Lassa fever.
“Enable partners are conducting assessments to fill this knowledge gap, including phone calls or in-person visits to study participants to obtain a more precise estimate of the population-level incidence of Lassa fever.
Along with other important partners, NCDC is in charge of Enable’s Nigerian component.To make it possible for standardized assessments and datasets that are comparable across all countries, all Enable partners are utilizing a fundamental protocol and methods.
“A total of approximately 23,000 participants across the five countries participating in Enable are being followed up for two years to better understand the incidence and associated predictors of the disease, including gender and age, as well as the spread of the virus throughout the region. This is being done with support from up to $29 million in funding from CEPI.
Although some vaccines are in development, there are currently no licensed vaccines to protect against Lassa fever.The Enable program’s data will help determine where and how Lassa vaccine clinical trials can be conducted in the future.
“CEPI has supported the development of six Lassa vaccines to this point, with four candidate vaccines having advanced to Phase I clinical trials in Liberia, Ghana, the United States, and Belgium, some of the first in the world.As part of its strategy to lessen the risk of pandemics and epidemics, CEPI wants to help develop a licensed Lassa vaccine that can be used regularly in affected areas.
“Today’s workshop will bring the Enable partners together to network and identify research and technical priorities to focus on going forward, in addition to reviewing the progress of the study up to this point.”
“The Enable Lassa Research Programme has brought together north-to-south and south-to-south research collaborations under a single umbrella, like never before, to work collectively to provide valuable insights to support Lassa fever research and vaccine development in West Africa,” Dr. N’Faly Magassouba, who is also the Principal Investigator of the Enable site in Guinea, was quoted in the statement.Additionally, these collaborations will result in enhanced capacities for clinical research and public health at each study site.”
Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa, the NCDC’s General Director, stated:One of Nigeria’s recurring and concurrent disease outbreaks is Lassa fever.Given the deaths caused by healthcare workers, it is responsible for significant morbidity and mortality and has a significant impact on healthcare delivery in affected regions.
“Over the years, the nation has made progress in the management of Lassa fever;However, there are still many gaps, such as a lack of evidence-based vector control interventions and limited therapeutic and vaccine options.We are pleased with our mutually beneficial collaboration with CEPI, particularly through the Enable program, and anticipate the availability of effective Lassa fever vaccines and treatments for our nation.
Gabrielle Breugelmans, CEPI’s Director of Epidemiology, said:The calamitous COVID-19 pandemic has once more demonstrated the importance of scientific collaboration.Enable will be able to move forward with its research thanks to the connections and lessons learned at this crucial meeting. These insights will also help us understand how prevalent Lassa fever disease is in West Africa, which will help us plan future vaccine trials.
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