Our vision

Our vision is to effectively contribute to the control of future emerging epidemics or pandemics through a flexible clinical research platform response, supporting preparedness and rapid response to emerging infectious diseases via the development of tools (DTV), with a focus on Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs).

Our mission

PANTHER aims to develop, implement and sustain a “ready to use” living clinical research platform which integrates research capacity in clinical care.

The platform provides the human and technical infrastructure to timely address LMICs’ medical research questions through a network of equipped and trained researchers combining experienced African research centres with healthcare sites in key population areas and more remote locations.

Why is PANTHER needed?

PANTHER is born from the lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic in Africa. This experience highlighted that Low and Middle-income Countries (LMICs) need to be better prepared to accelerate the clinical research response to new infectious disease outbreaks in Africa. The region still faces administrative, financing, and regulatory bottlenecks that should be overcome.

PANTHER was designed to address these hurdles and to prompt response to emerging pandemics. PANTHER aims to enable African countries to be self-sufficient in research and development of medical products, drugs, or strategies that, in turn, allow them to craft and improve their response systems.

In the COVID-19 crisis, LMICs’ needs were not sufficiently integrated into global priority setting and response. PANTHER’s ambition is to revert this imbalance. This is why the platform strongly aligns with the WHO’s R&D blueprint, AFRO, EMRO, and Africa CDC priorities.

PANTHER proposes a new approach based on a collaborative research model to rapidly develop more concrete, inclusive, and sustainable operational preparedness and response plans in Africa.

PANTHER is built on existing partnerships between key African and European research institutions engaged in ANTICOV or other research projects and strives to collaborate with other existing networks and partners on the African continent.

How does PANTHER work?

Disease and outbreaks often start in outpatients; therefore, PANTHER provides the human and technical infrastructure and the needed medical strategies to facilitate early access for those living in rural and peripheral areas. The platform also ensures that a network of capabilities is in place to manage any medical complications.

Once preparedness activities have been conducted, the major challenge is to maintain a level of human resources with the right skill sets to ensure that the infrastructure is fully operational. Maintaining and developing active skills require “on-the-job” experience and is a crucial success factor in ensuring that clinical centres are fully functional when the crises burst. In addition to ongoing training and capacity strengthening as part of the preparedness work, PANTHER implements an inter-crises model that proposes several approaches to address this challenge.

The platform combines experienced African research centres (“hubs”) and healthcare sites with flexible mobile teams able to work in more remote settings.

HUBS: Core strategic and operational centres for preparedness and response

PANTHER works through strategic and operational centres for preparedness and response. These centres, called ‘hubs’, sustain a complete set of competencies and serve as reference platforms with several other qualified operational centres, starting with other active networks and building on their current strengths, complementing their capacities and capabilities where appropriate.

Hubs are composed of a principal investigator, a medical team, pharmacists, nurses, logisticians, community engagement staff, technical laboratory capacities, data managers, finance and administration staff, site and digital structure, and political support.

Catalysing a collaborative network for clinical research

Hubs are either regional or disease-specific, experienced, and connected with the local or regional stakeholders involved in surveillance, capacity building, policy-making, regulatory reviews, training and response. The Hub leaders are able to build new partnerships to conduct training, clinical research and capacity strengthening of partner sites and networks.

MOBILE TEAMS: Ready-to-use equipped teams to be deployed in endemic areas

The essential objective of reaching outpatients may require the set-up of ready-to-use fully equipped mobile units able to be deployed in endemic areas, treat patients and at the same time conduct clinical studies upon short notice. These mobile teams are established within the hubs and activated when needed in case of an outbreak or an epidemic.

Mobile teams safely test and treat patients with contagious diseases in a protected mobile environment, including laboratory capacity and beds stand-alone units, such as the cubes developed by Alima. They are also equipped with digital tools that allow them to collect data, e.g., possibly access e-diagnosis hubs and rapidly communicate results.

Platform architecture

In a regional epidemic context, hubs are located in experienced endemic epicentres (e.g., Nigeria for Lassa). Partners are chosen by the Hub and selected amongst the countries/sites at risk.

Mobile teams are additional response tools adapted to each epidemiological typology and critical to outpatients’ outreach and conducting short-notice clinical trials.

In an endemic or pandemic context, hub selection is pragmatic (building on the existing). Partners are chosen by the Hub and selected amongst the countries/sites at risk.

Our governance

PANTHER is governed by a majority of African leaders and aligns its priorities around those of the public health governing bodies