Matthew Bates, Senior Lecturer in Microbiology at the School of Life Sciences, spent seven years in Zambia where his worked showed that untreated tuberculosis (TB) and cytomegalovirus (CMV) accounted for 15 percent of all childhood deaths and could affect up to 50 percent of HIV-infected babies with symptoms of severe pneumonia.
Now he will use his expertise in EMPIRICAL (Empirical treatment against cytomegalovirus and tuberculosis in severe pneumonia in HIV-infected infants: a randomised clinical trial), a five-year clinical trial to evaluate whether the empirical treatment of these two common pathogens will improve survival rates in this fragile and high mortality risk patient group.
Pneumonia is the leading cause of death in HIV-infected African infants and has many different causes including bacteria and viruses. Current treatment is limited to broad spectrum antibiotics which are ineffective against TB and viral infections such as CMV.
Matthew’s work will focus on him establishing systems to standardise laboratory work across seven African hospitals ensuring a high quality of data.
Matthew said: “there has been limited change or innovation in improving survival rates in HIV-infected infants with severe pneumonia, and mortality in this vulnerable group remains unacceptably high across Africa. The primary focus of our trial is to determine whether a simple intervention strategy that could be applied in basic community hospitals, has the capacity to save lives.
“This project is the University of Lincoln’s first major international clinical trial and augers well for the development and expansion of clinical and translational global health research at the university, in advance of the opening of the new University of Lincoln Medical School in Sept 2019.”
EMPIRICAL is funded by the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP). It is coordinated by Dr Pablo Rojo and his team from the Hospital 12 de Octubre in Madrid and brings together experts in paediatrics, therapeutics, clinical trials and diagnostics from across Europe, Cote D’Ivoire, Malawi, Mozambique, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Zambia.
Matthew is leading the project on behalf of the University of Lincoln, drawing upon his experience of 7 years living and working in Zambia, conducting therapeutic and diagnostic clinical trials, and providing mentorship for MSc and MMed students through his role as an Honorary Senior Lecturer at the University of Zambia.