Funding of more than €80 million for research into the prevention of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in Africa has been approved by the European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP).

The investment, the largest ever approved by the EDCTP, is expected to boost significantly co-operation between European and African researchers. It consists of a €40 million contribution from the European Commission, to be matched by EU member states and third parties.

The projects involve 12 European and 22 sub-Saharan African countries. They address tuberculosis (TB) vaccines, malaria treatment, malaria in pregnancy, malaria vaccines, ethics review capacity, World Health Organization (WHO) regulatory affairs, Networks of Excellence, and Senior Fellowships. Additional funding for HIV treatment, vaccines and microbicides, TB treatment and Networks of Excellence is expected to be approved during the second half of this year.

The projects on TB and malaria combine clinical trials with capacity-building and networking activities. By integrating these activities, EDCTP aims to enhance the sustainability of conducting trials on the African continent, it notes.

A number of the projects selected for funding focus on creating and developing capacity for ethics review of clinical trials and improving the regulatory framework for drug approvals in Africa. “This enables African countries to conduct high-quality and ethically sound clinical trials, and to assess the safety and efficacy of all medicines that enter the African market,” EDCTP said.

Professor Charles Mgone, executive director of the Partnership, commented: “This is a very significant milestone for collaboration between north and south in the fight against the three main diseases of poverty, namely HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.”

It was also “very gratifying to note that, among the 26 projects approved for funding, 22 have African scientists based in Africa as their principal investigators”, he added. “This underscores EDCTP’s objective of fostering a genuine partnership and enhancing clinical research capacity in Africa.”

Funded under the European Commission’s Sixth Framework Programme for research and technological development, the EDCTP is a partnership between European and sub-Saharan countries that seeks to reduce the burden of poverty-related diseases by pooling resources for clinical trials to develop new interventions against HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.

These efforts are centred on Phase II and III clinical trials in sub-Saharan Africa. The partners include 14 European Union member states, Norway, Switzerland and 47 sub-Saharan African countries.