Over 1000 hospitals and 800 laboratories are part of CLIN-Net and LAB-Net. The networks made possible the enrollment of over 20,000 patients and subjects. Ensuring that this valuable infrastructure built over the years continues beyond the funding period is therefore extremely important.
““If we fail to put the infrastructure that’s been built to good use, we’ll have a divestment of value to answer for,” says Prof. Marc Bonten (University Medical Center Utrecht, NL). “That’s why we began considering an independent post-2021 life for ourselves back in 2016. The networks have vast potential, especially if COMBACTE pools its resources with another European program: PREPARE”.
ECRAID – European Clinical Research Alliance on Infectious Diseases – aims to establish a self-sustaining clinical research organization and network for infectious diseases. It will be ready to operate from 2021, and will be prepared to respond to infectious diseases that are of public health concern to Europe by carrying out cutting-edge research.
ECRAID will provide sustainability for the clinical research networks and infrastructures currently funded through COMBACTE and PREPARE.
PREPARE – Platform for European Preparedness Against (Re-)emerging Epidemics – focuses on setting up clinical research quickly in the event of impending epidemics. PREPARE will establish a common European clinical research infrastructure covering over 600 primary care sites and over 600 hospital sites in 27 EU member States.
Since January 2019 the two-year project ECRAID-Plan has started. Within the duration of this project a business plan for ECRAID will be developed, funded by the European Commission’s H2020 program.
ECRAID wants to efficiently generate rigorous evidence to improve the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of infections and to better respond to infectious disease threats. ECRAID will bring together clinical research in emerging infectious diseases with antimicrobial resistance.
‘We have a lot of players in the world trying to do clinical research in the event of a pandemic situation. So there is a lot of fragmentation and in fact, there is a lot of money being invested in clinical research response but that needs to be done in a more coherent way.’ says Prof. Herman Goossens (University of Antwerp, BE), ECRAID-Plan coordinator, coordinator of PREPARE, and LAB-Net Academic Lead.
By focusing on collaboration between researchers and targeting current ethical, administrative, regulatory and logistical challenges, ECRAID assists clinical trials to be done much faster, more efficiently and therefore at a lower cost, with as ultimate goal to have ongoing platform trials for major diseases and symptoms in Europe.
Prof. Herman Goossens is very keen on a shared future existence of COMBACTE and PREPARE: “Such an infrastructure would be the only one of its kind in the world. It puts Europe in a position to take on a leadership role in infectious diseases’ clinical research.”
On June 4th the proposal for the ECRAID-Base has been submitted.
The challenges posed by emerging infectious diseases and antimicrobial resistance can only be effectively resolved through international collaboration and coordination.
The current COVID-19 pandemic has led to unprecedented public health measures across the globe. Meanwhile, the scientific research community is developing epidemiological intelligence, diagnostics, vaccines and antiviral treatments to reduce the impact of COVID-19.
The expertise required to clinically evaluate new diagnostics, treatments, vaccines and other preventive and/or therapeutic interventions is not confined to a single institute or country. Collaboration and solidarity is key.
With COMBACTE as one of the partners in ECRAID-Base, together, we have already established a strong and important foundation. Our existing clinical and laboratory network CLIN-Net and LAB-Net will be at the core of ECRAID-Base, and will continue to expand and play an important role in our future.
As a European single-access clinical research network for infectious diseases, ECRAID-base will be a “Warm Base” network. A “Warm Base” network is a fully operational pan-European clinical research network that has the capacity and capability:
- to directly enrol patients with infectious diseases for generating evidence to support testing and development of new diagnostic, preventive and/or therapeutic strategies and therapies;
- to conduct a broad range of rigorous clinical studies efficiently, and rapidly;
- to function as a platform for a rapid research response in the face of serious infections and infectious outbreaks.
Over the last 7 years we have paved the road for where we are today. We look forward to the future together, continuing to share knowledge and do great research!