Meetings and events


Jul, 2020

The size of HIV reservoir is associated with telomere shortening and immunosenescence in early ART-treated HIV-infected children


Authors: De Rossi A, Dalzini A, Ballin G, Dominguez-Rodriuguez S, Rojo P, Foster C, Palma P, Sessa L, Nastouli E, Pahwa S, Rossi P, Giaquinto C, EPIICAL Consortium

Published in: 23rd International AIDS Conference, July 6th-10th, 2020

Background: HIV infection is linked to premature senescence, with increased risk of aging-associated illnesses. Early ART has been associated with a reduced HIV reservoir in HIV-perinatally infected children (PHIV), but its impact on the senescence process is an open question. Telomeres are critical for cellular replicative potential and their shortening is a marker of cellular senescence and aging process. We investigated the relationship between immunosenescence and HIV reservoir in PHIV enrolled in a multicenter cross-sectional study (CARMA, EPIICAL consortium).

Methods: 37 PHIV, who started ART <2 years of age and had undetectable viremia for at least 5 years, were enrolled in this study. HIV-DNA copies on CD4 cells and relative telomere length and levels of T-cell receptor rearrangement excision circle (TREC, marker of thymic output) on CD4 and CD8 cells were quantified by qPCR. Senescent and activated CD4 and CD8 cells were estimated by flow cytometry. To explore the associations between cellular parameters, HIV reservoir and age at ART initiation, data were analyzed using a multivariable Poisson regression (adjusted for baseline % CD4, plasmaviremia, age at reservoir measurement, and age at ART initiation as interaction term).

Results: HIV reservoir was significantly (p<0.001) associated with immunosenescence (1.23[1.21-1.26]) and telomere shortening (0.15[0.13-0.17]) in CD4 cells, and immune activation (3.67[3.49-3.85]) and TREC levels (1.08[1.06-1.11]) in CD8 cells. These associations decreased by 1%, 10%, 6% and 6%, respectively, for each month ART was delayed. Early treated PHIV (ART initiation ≤6 months of age) displayed significantly lower HIV-DNA level (89[56-365] vs 552[303-1001] copies/106 cells)  and % CD4 senescent cells (1.0[0.5-2.7] vs 2.9[2.0-6.3]) than late treated ones.



Jun, 2020

Persistence of SARS-CoV-2 virus RNA in feces: a case series of children

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Aims To determine how long SARS-CoV-2 virus RNA persists in fecal specimens in children with COVID-19.

Methods Retrospectively, ten children with confirmed COVID-19 in the Jinan Infectious Disease Hospital Affiliated to Shandong University were enrolled between January 23, 2020 to March 9, 2020. Epidemiological, clinical, laboratory, and radiological characteristics of the children were analyzed. RT-PCR assays were performed to detect the SARS-CoV-2 virus RNA in the respiratory tract and fecal specimens in the follow-up after discharge.

Results Among ten patients, five (50%) were asymptomatic and five (50%) showed mild symptoms of respiratory illness. The average age of asymptomatic children was younger than that of symptomatic children (p = 0.03). The decreases in white blood cell (WBC) (p = 0.03) and lymphocyte (p = 0.03) counts were more severe in symptomatic patients than those in asymptomatic patients. During the follow-up examination after discharge, seven out of ten patients contained SARS-CoV-2 virus RNA in their fecal specimens, despite all patients showed negative results in respiratory tract specimens. One out of those seven patients relapsed. The median time from onset to being negative results in respiratory tract and fecal specimens was 9 days and 34.43 days, respectively.

Conclusions SARS-CoV-2 virus RNA persists much longer in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract than that in respiratory tract.

Read the full article here.



Jun, 2020

Epidemiological and clinical characteristics of 26 asymptomatic severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2 carriers

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Background We retrospectively analysed 26 persistently asymptomatic severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) carriers.

Methods Epidemiological and clinical characteristics from the 26 asymptomatic patients with positive results for SARS-CoV-2 RNA testing were obtained.

Results Twenty-two patients (84.6%) correlated with clustering occurrence. The median period from contact to diagnosis and the last positive nucleic acid test was 19 (8–24 days) and 21.5 days (10–36 days), respectively. The median period from diagnosis to negative nucleic acid test was significantly different between patients with normal or atypical chest computed tomography (CT) findings (n=16, 61.5%; 7.5 days [2–20 days]) and patients with typical ground-glass or patchy opacities on CT(n=10, 38.5%; 12.5 days[8–22 days]; P<0.01). Seven patients (70.0%) with initial positive nucleic acid test results had a negative result simultaneously with improved CT findings. Obvious improvement in CT findings was observed in three patients (30.0%) despite positive nucleic acid test results.

Conclusion In asymptomatic patients, changes in biochemical and inflammatory variables are small and changes on chest CT can occur. It is worth noting the long existence of SARS-CoV-2 in some asymptomatic patients and false-negative results need to be considered in SARS-CoV-2nucleic acid test.

Read the full article here.



Jun, 2020

Infant with SARS-CoV-2 infection causing severe lung disease treated with Remdesivir

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We describe an ex-premature infant presenting with SARS-CoV-2 infection in the 5th week of life. Current reports indicate that acute symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection is relatively rare and much less severe than in adults. This case highlights that infection can be associated with life threatening pulmonary disease in young infants and that infection can follow a similar disease course to that described in adults. We provide first data on the use of the novel antiviral remdesivir in a young child and an innovative approach to expedited approval from a multidisciplinary clinical team and bioethics committee for compassionate access to the drug.

Read the full article here.



Nov, 2019

VALUE-Dx: Clinical Studies Kick-off Meeting in Zeist, The Netherlands


On 24 and 25 October 2019, the kick-off meeting for the VALUE-Dx ‘Clinical Studies’ work package was hosted at the Julius Centre of Health Sciences and Primary Care of the University Medical Center Utrecht in Zeist, the Netherlands.

Representatives from different community care settings, from the industry partners and from other work packages came together in preparation for the point prevalence audit survey which is planned to take place during the ‘high-peak’ winter season (January-March 2020) in 21 countries across Europe. The survey aims at describing the presentation and management of community-acquired acute respiratory tract infections. Furthermore, this survey is the first step towards designing the clinical trial testing various point-of-care diagnostics such as infections in community settings to better target antibiotic use and ultimately combat antimicrobial resistance.

The meeting proved productive, with several key highlights to take home. A European community care research network is to be built through the extension of the existing PREPARE network and by combining with Penta and other research networks. Representatives from primary care networks from as many as 18 countries underlined key differences concerning health care delivery in their country, epidemiology and management of respiratory tract infections. The meeting featured a highly interactive session on the methods and logistics of the survey to ensure flexibility and relevance to the different countries involved and meeting the needs of the community settings. Moreover, industry partners BioMérieux, Abbot and Becton Dickinson showcased their point-of-care diagnostic products to be potentially included in the clinical trial. Lastly, and on a more light-hearted note, the evening was a chance to further boost team integration with a pub quiz! The whole group was put to the test with general questions from all over Europe, European song contest winners, and a section with Value-Dx related questions.

Penta is the paediatric partner in VALUE-Dx, and will leverage sites from the PED-MERMAIDS trial nested within the PREPARE project to participate in a point-prevalence study and a clinical study within VALUE-Dx to demonstrate the value of diagnostics in the optimal management of community-acquired acute respiratory tract infections.


Oct, 2019

ZikAction Consortium Meeting to take place in Guayaquil, 8-9 November 2019

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On 8-9 November the annual ZIKAction Consortium meeting will be held in Guayaquil, Ecuador. Around 40 researchers, health professionals and project managers from partner organizations are planning to participate in the meeting which aims at overviewing the ongoing project studies, their outcomes and setting goals for the upcoming year. The results of various studies, urgent issues and project management area updates will be presented and discussed during various sessions of the meeting. Special attention will be given to new studies currently starting under the framework of the project in Argentina, Brazil, Jamaica and Ecuador.

We look forward to seeing you all in Guayaquil and sharing the outcomes of the meeting with our wider community of researchers, practitioners, patients and families!


Oct, 2019

Digitalization and Infectious Diseases: Improving patient outcome in the age of big data

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The city of Basel, Switzerland is set to host the international research conference ‘Digital ID 2020‘ on 20-21 January, 2020. Precision medicine experts and key opinion leaders will be on hand to offer exciting insights into range of topics, including digitalization, machine learning, biomedical research, and personalized health in infectious diseases. The most recent breakthroughs and translation into applications to clinics will be presented and discussed.

It goes without saying that digitalization and machine learning (a branch of artificial intelligence) will soon have a profound impact on the daily workflow of modern hospitals. In particular, the diagnostic process and the management of infectious diseases will be significantly improved due to data-driven approaches. These will involve the usage of digital biomarkers, complex medical decision support systems, and patient advice based on sophisticated big data.

Chaired by Nicole Ritz and Urs Frey, both of the University Children’s Hospital in Basel, there will be a dedicated session on Paediatrics and Infectious Disease on Tuesday, 21 January.  The development of tools particularly useful in limited resource settings, challenges in the development of digital tools in paediatrics, and the application of digital tools to improve vaccine coverage worldwide will all be discussed.

If you wish to participate, the early bird registration and abstract submission deadline is 31 October!

Event info:

  • Date: 20-21 January, 2020
  • Venue: Congress Center, Basel, Switzerland
  • Conference website: Digital ID 2020
  • Registration: Early bird registration here!
  • Call for Abstracts: Submit your research abstract for selection for a poster session here.


Sep, 2019

Uniting against antibiotic resistance: ‘5 by 25’

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Our friends at GARDP are calling upon the global community to support its goal to develop and deliver five new treatments by 2025 in response to the growing burden of antibiotic resistant infections.

Antibiotics have radically transformed our world by making previously incurable illnesses treatable. As a result, not only has our wellbeing significantly improved, but millions of lives have been saved. However, this remarkable progress is threatened by the spread of antibiotic resistance and requires an urgent global response.

We need solutions that will deliver for global public health. No one country or sector can do it alone. The GARDP model of public-private partnerships is key to preventing the world form entering a post-antibiotic era. Only together can we tackle this impending crisis!

GARDP invite you to join them at this year’s World Health Summit in Berlin to learn how their ‘5 BY 25’ goal will accelerate the development and delivery of five new and improved treatments to address antibiotic-resistant infections that pose the greatest threat to health and development. These new treatments will focus on the priority pathogens identified by the World Health Organization, and current unmet needs for diseases and key populations.

If you are interested in attending please write to ‘‘ by 17 October 2019.


Event details:

Date: Monday 28 October, 2019
Time: 14.00 –15:30
Venue: Saal 2 – America, Kosmos, Karl-Marx-Allee 131a, Berlin, Germany


Aug, 2019

CUAMM workshop: “Implementation Research in resource limited countries”


Our close collaborators, Doctors with Africa CUAMM, are hosting the workshop “Implementation Research in resource limited countries” on 30 September – 3 October in Padua, Italy.

Implementation research is a growing field of study with roots in many disciplines and research traditions. Its core intent is to understand not only what is and isn’t working, but how and why implementation is going right or wrong, and testing approaches to improve it. Implementation research is particularly important in global health because it takes what we know and turns it into what we do, addressing challenges in diverse real-world settings and the practicalities of achieving national and global health goals. This type of research uses multiple disciplines and methods and emphasises partnerships between community members, implementers, researchers, and policy makers.

The dynamic 4-day event will bring together an extensive group of experts involved in different areas of clinical research and capacity-building. The workshop is aimed at graduates, post-graduates and doctoral students in the field of healthcare, or similar professional figures interested in exploring the aspects of operational research in this area. Theoretical training will be accompanied by an experiential part (to present the research carried out by Doctors with Africa CUAMM or by other bodies in countries with limited resources) and practical exercises. Participating from Penta is Carlo Giaquinto, who has been invited to give the following presentation: “International Research Agenda on Infectious Diseases: the international agenda”. Other notable talks deal with key topics such as ‘Theory of Change‘, funding priorities and opportunities, and international research agendas on nutrition, chronic diseases, mental health and disabilities.

Founded in 1950, CUAMM was the first non-governmental organization focused on healthcare to be recognized by the Italian government. It is now the country’s leading organization working to protect and improve the wellbeing and health of vulnerable communities in Sub-Saharan Africa. The organization carries out capacity-building activities and conducts and disseminates scientific research with the end goal of ensuring that the fundamental human right to health can be enjoyed by everyone everywhere. Working with international and local partner teams, CUAMM provides medical aid and expertise in 8 African countries: Angola, Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda.

The course is free of charge. To register send your updated CV to Chiara Cavagna ( by 3 September. In the case of too many applications, a selection of participants will be made.

The programme (Italian) is available here!


Aug, 2019

Penta ID Network Meeting 2019 – a look back in pictures!


Following the great success of the recent Penta ID Network Meeting, we are pleased to now share with you a photo gallery of the event.

On 30th June, 234 participants from 31 countries around the world gathered together in the beautiful setting of Baveno, Italy for the biannual ‘PIM’ – Penta ID Network Meeting. Marked by 3 days of scientific discussion, sharing ideas and opening up new channels of collaboration, this year’s event was brimming with activity.

The very first ‘PIM’ meeting took place back in 1999, when Penta was an ambitious young European network with a main focus on HIV research. In recent years we have grown and developed into a truly global workforce, now operating in many different areas – including HIV, Antimicrobial resistance, Arboviruses, Paediatric medicines, and Education and training. “The diversity is so obvious, the new scientific organisation is fantastic, building bridges to continue the mission of Penta across the world”, in the words of Penta Scientific Chief Officer, Theoklis Zaoutis.

PIM 2019 was an opportunity to solidify existing partnerships. With GARDP we have a global platform on antibiotics for the paediatric population. Together, we can accelerate paediatric development of antibiotic treatments and tackle drug-resistant infections in children. “We have a lot of work to do, but we are moving in the right direction” – Manica Balasegaram, Executive Director, GARDP.

Moreover, this new edition of the PIM was an opportunity to reflect on the real impact of what we are doing. A special thanks to Siobhan Crowley for her thought-provoking words, which encouraged us to “communicate, inspire and empower, take initiative and believe in the transformational power of your work”.

We are very excited to be moving forward with so many new projects and studies, continuing the Penta spirit of sharing… as a value, a method, and a goal.

“Thank you to everyone for joining us. Penta is really ‘you’, and our success is through your commitment!” – Carlo Giaquinto

Enjoy the full photo gallery here!