eWHORM - Enabling the WHO-Roadmap 2030
Worm infections (helminthiases) affect around 1.5 billion people worldwide, making them one of the most prevalent infections in humans. Worm infections can cause chronic and debilitating health problems, such as lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis (river blindness), loiasis (African eye worm), mansonellosis, and trichuriasis (whipworm infection). Despite significant progress in the prevention and control of 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.
African and European partners are joining forces to enable the World Health Organisation's (WHO) Roadmap for Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) and reduce the burden of disease associated with worm infections. eWHORM is funded with EUR 7.9 million from the European Union's European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) programme and an additional EUR 3.4 million from the Swiss government over the next five years.
The eWHORM project aims to develop and test more efficacious and safer treatment options that work across different helminth species. The project will focus on the broad-spectrum helminth-killing (pan-nematode anthelmintic) oxfendazole drug. eWHORM will evaluate its efficacy in an adaptive clinical trial for simultaneous evaluation against onchocerciasis, loiasis, mansonellosis and trichuriasis. This design significantly reduces patient numbers and development time-frames, and allows treatment of co-infections. The project will also train healthcare professionals to diagnose multiple diseases in four endemic countries: the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Republic of Gabon, the Republic of Cameroon and the United Republic of Tanzania. An open-source virtual training and assessment tool for diagnosing NTDs will complement the knowledge transfer to remote areas in sub-Saharan Africa.