Scientific view

Advancing research on maternal and child health in 2023

07 Jun, 2024

This article was written by Laura Mangiarini, Penta Foundation Chief Operations Officer, Italy. It is taken from Penta’s 2023 Annual Social Report.

In 2023, Penta laid the groundwork for a more coordinated approach to emerging and re-emerging infections. Recognising the limitations of fragmented research efforts, we established strong collaborations across academia, industry, EU agencies and the global community, leveraging each player’s unique strength.

Penta spearheaded innovation in 2023 by designing and coordinating PediCAP and SNIP-AFRICA, addressing the critical issue of slow and inefficient methods for evaluating paediatric antibiotic regimens. These projects target childhood infections like pneumonia and neonatal sepsis in Africa, a region disproportionally affected by antibiotic resistance. Notably, these projects represent Penta’s first venture into the adaptive trial design, allowing researchers to compare significantly more treatment options simultaneously, thus accelerating the discovery of optimal antibiotic regimens for children.

Building on established collaborations in paediatric infectious diseases, PediCAP is evaluating the most effective medication, dosage, and treatment duration for oral step-down antibiotics in children hospitalised with severe pneumonia. SNIP-AFRICA, initiated in 2023, will implement an adaptive clinical trial and pharmacokinetic studies over the next five years to identify the optimal antibiotic dose and regimen for reducing mortality rates caused by drug-resistant sepsis in newborns.

Further addressing future epidemics and pandemics, Penta designed the groundbreaking PIPELINE platform. This adaptive clinical trial platform focuses on underserved populations, including pregnant people and their infants. PIPELINE has the potential to significantly accelerate access to lifesaving RSV vaccines and treatments for these populations. By expediting research timelines and targeting key populations, PIPELINE can ensure faster development of effective interventions during outbreaks.

In the constantly evolving research landscape, Penta prioritises horizon scanning and action. We established clear and inclusive processes for identifying emerging research areas with the most significant impact on child health. This inclusive approach ensures key stakeholders, including patient associations, researchers and physicians have a voice in crucial decisions. The development of the RSV-tailored PIPELINE platform exemplifies this focus. The resulting research outputs form a strong foundation for building sustainable future and adaptable health systems.

At the heart of all our research efforts lies our Network of talented researchers. In 2023, we actively involved them in our studies, leveraging their expertise to enhance research quality. This also fuelled our training programs and capacity-building initiatives like Team-COACH. In parallel, we continued promoting high-quality project management through internal staff training and fostering synergies across teams. This focus on efficient project execution translates to faster results and maximises the impact of our research efforts.

Protecting the integrity of our research findings remains a top priority. Strict legal and operational measures are in place to safeguard the security of Penta-generated data.

Through these significant achievements in collaboration and innovation in 2023, Penta is well-positioned to deliver on its strategic commitments for 2024 and beyond. We remain dedicated to improving global health outcomes for children and their families worldwide, through our commitment to innovative research, collaboration, and empowering future generations of researchers.