Launch of the EU-funded project eWHORM – enabling the WHO Road Map: Eliminate worm infections in Sub-Saharan Africa
African and European partners join forces to enable the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) “Road Map for Neglected Tropical Diseases” (NTDs) and reduce the burden of disease associated with worm infections. German Center of Infection Research (DZIF) professor Marc Hübner and colleagues successfully acquired EU funding for the recently launched joint project last year: eWHORM will be funded with EUR 7.9 million from the European Union’s European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) programme and additional EUR 3.4 million from the Swiss Government over the next five years.
Worm infections (helminthiases) affect around 1.5 billion people worldwide, making them one of the most prevalent infections in humans. Parasitic worms (helminths) are often transmitted through insect bites or contaminated soil in areas with limited access to clean water, sanitation, and healthcare. These infections can cause chronic and debilitating health problems, such as lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis (river blindness), loiasis (African eye worm), mansonellosis, and trichuriasis (whipworm infection).
Achieving the ambitious World Health Organisation Road Map goals
Despite significant progress in preventing and controlling helminthiases, many existing drugs have proven problematic in terms of efficacy, treatment duration, and safety. In addition, the chronic underinvestment in healthcare in developing countries has led to poor infrastructure and inadequately trained technical staff.
The eWHORM project aims to address these issues by further developing and testing more efficacious and safe treatment options that act across different helminth species. The project will also train healthcare professionals to enable the diagnosis of multiple diseases in four endemic countries: the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Gabonese Republic, the Republic of Cameroon, and the United Republic of Tanzania.
Cutting-edge clinical trial to end multiple Neglected Tropical Diseases
“Our mission in eWHORM is to assess the efficacy of oxfendazole (OXF) for simultaneous evaluation against onchocerciasis, loiasis, mansonellosis, and trichuriasis. To do this, we plan to set up a state-of-the-art adaptive basket trial that can test OXF against multiple diseases at once. This will help us to quickly find out if OXF works and get it to patients faster,” says project coordinator Marc Hübner, German Center of Infection Research (DZIF) professor of translational microbiology at the Institute for Medical Microbiology, Immunology and Parasitology (IMMIP) at the University Hospital Bonn. The broad-spectrum helminth-killing (pan-nematode anthelmintic) drug oxfendazole (OXF) is used since several decades in the veterinary field to treat multiple species of helminths safely and effectively.
Besides Hübner, numerous other DZIF researchers are involved in the eWHORM project: Prof. Achim Hoerauf, Prof. Michael Ramharter, Prof. Bertrand Lell, Dr Kenneth Pfarr and Dr Ute Klarmann-Schulz, among others, are looking forward to synergies between eWHORM and their ongoing projects in the DZIF research field Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases as well as Novel Antibiotics.
About the project:
Full Name: eWHORM – Enabling the WHO-Road Map 2030
Start Date: 1 April 2023
Duration: 60 months
Budget: EUR 7.9 Mio.
Coordinator: University Hospital Bonn
Medical University of Vienna
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Institut National de Recherche Biomédicale
Centre de Recherches Médicales de Lambaréné
University Hospital Bonn
Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine
Eurice – European Research and Project Office GmbH
Erasmus University Medical Center
Republic of Cameroon
University of Buea
Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (Affiliated entity)
Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Affiliated entity)
Professor Dr. Marc Hübner
University Hospital Bonn
https://www.dzif.de/en/launch-eu-funded-project-ewhorm-enabling-who-road-map-eliminate-worm-infections-sub-saharan-africa DZIF press release
https://www.ewhorm.org/ Joint press release of the partner organisations