For the first time in two years, researchers from the STOP consortium were able to meet face to face    


For the first time in two years, researchers from the STOP consortium were able to meet face to face    

The Mediterranean Sea was the background for the fourth annual meeting of the STOP consortium, held on October 14 and 15 at Sitges, near Barcelona. Team members from Ethiopia, Mozambique, The Netherlands, Barcelona and Leon managed to attend physically, while members from Kenya and the UK participated online.

“This is an exciting time for the project – we are finally ready to start the trial after years of work related to its preparation,” says Jose Muñoz, ISGlobal researcher and project leader. The phase IIb trial, which will determine the population pharmacokinetics of the fixed dose coformulation of albendazole and ivermectin (FDC), is expected to begin in January 2022 in Kenya, followed by the phase III trial which will measure the FDC efficacy against whipworm (Trichuris trichiura) and other soil-transmitted helminths in the three trial sites (Ethiopia, Kenya and Mozambique).

The consortium discussed recent evidence related to the use of ivermectin in the treatment of soil-transmitted helminths, and experience acquired in the use of optical devices to detect and count eggs in stool samples. First results regarding the bioequivalence of the coformulation were also presented, as well as considerations related to the acceptability and feasibility of using the FDC in mass drug administration campaigns.

Alejandro Krolewiecki, who coordinates the clinical trial, highlighted the trial’s innovative aspects: using higher, fixed doses of ivermectin, using a coformulation, and using qPCR to measure treatment efficacy.

The team then discussed the trial preparation in the three sites and identified pending actions to ensure its successful implementation, including regular quality control checks regarding the extraction and amplification of DNA from stool samples.

On the second day, the three PhD students presented progress made on their project, and the consortium discussed the use of genome wide studies to identify resistance markers to anthelmintic drugs. “This trial offers the opportunity to link genotypic information with phenotypic (i.e. drug resistance) information,” explains Almudena Legarda, STOP’s new scientific coordinator.  Finally, advocacy and regulatory activities were discussed, with the aim of better exploiting the trial’s results, and ensuring, if positive, that they lead to new public health recommendations at the national and global level, for improving the treatment and control of soil-transmitted helminths.