Our project has taken an important step forward by hosting the first meeting with our newly formed Scientific & Technical Advisory Board (STAB). This meeting marks our commitment to incorporating external expertise and insights that enhance our team’s capabilities and perspectives. By bringing together world-renowned experts, we hope to improve our chances of successfully delivering a tool that helps WHO’s Roadmap for Neglected Tropical Diseases.

The first meeting with our Scientific and Technical Advisory Board (STAB) was hosted online last Thursday, April 4th. During this session, our team had the opportunity to meet John Amuasi, Executive Director of the African Research Network for NTDs, Raj Shankar Gosh, a physician with 30+ years of experience on infectious diseases and Public Health, Patrick Lammie, Director of the NTD Support Center at the Task Force for Global Health, and Denise Mupfasoni, leader of STH related activities at WHO´s NTD Department, who serves in the STAB as an observer.

During this first meeting we had the opportunity to summarize the achievements from previous projects that STOP2030 build upon. Notably the ALIVE study, a pivotal clinical trial which successfully gathered evidence on efficacy and safety of the fixed-dose coformulation –FDC–, and the submission of the FDC to EMA through EU_M4All (previously article 58).

Alejandro Krolewiecki, the Principal Investigator of STOP2030, took the opportunity to share the project’s goals with the Advisory Board. Firstly, he emphasized evaluating the safety and acceptability of the FDC among large populations in areas endemic to Trichuris trichiura, which will be done in the upcoming REALISE study (clinicaltrials.gov: NCT06282315). Additionally, he outlined the objectives of establishing effective implementation strategies, devising a comprehensive access plan, and developing advanced surveillance methods through genomic analysis.

Our STAB members inquired about the expected adverse events (AE) during the incoming trial. Krolewiecki explained that previous results only showed mild to moderate AEs, always self-limiting in nature. Julie Jacobson, from Bridges to Development, said that mass drug administration campaigns for STH have been done for several years and are very safe. It’s greatest risk, she explained, comes from choking, which our FDC aims to mitigate by being orodispersible and mango-flavoured, while being a tablet of similar size to the current available treatment.

The STAB members also inquired about what other diseases could benefit from the FDC. Onchocerciasis, scabies and lymphatic filariasis were mentioned as possible future targets. Apart from a reduction on the number of pills and a greater number of STH species targeted, both truly beneficial, Krolewiecki remarked that revisiting the dosing strategies for ivermectin is also one of the project’s innovations.

Other enquiries by STAB members revolved around the possibilities of integrating the FDC with ongoing deworming programs, and about what would be required, in terms of capacity building, to incorporate the FDC further.

In summary, we enjoyed a focused, comprehensive and fruitful meeting with our STAB members. This gathering has equipped us with both the optimism and the clear perspective needed to tackle upcoming challenges with even more enthusiasm.