The pitoresque Ghent formed the setting for a wonderful 2-day meeting with all Starworms partners. On monday the 28th of May, the agenda was filled with presentations on the results obtained from the first field trials where a comprehensive evaluation of diagnostic techniques for detecting reduced anthelmintic drug efficacy was the central theme. Both the performance of different coprological techniques (KK, mini-FLOTAC and FecpakG2) as well as qPCR for the detection of STH infections and egg reduction rates were presented. Dr. Martin Walker also presented his findings of an in-depth modelling approach to evaluate the individual egg reduction and identify possible confounding factors. In the afternoon, Piet Cools introduced the concept of using genome counts as a standardized measure for qPCR analysis and our Dutch colleagues Jaap van Hellemond and Liesette van Lieshout presented their findings on the first External Quality Assessment of helminth qPCR. Prof. Roger Prichard closed the afternoon session with his presentation of the molecular data on the restance markers for a subset of samples collected during the first work package. At the end of each session, lively discussions erupted on the presented results.
The end of the first day of the meeting was closed off in the Belgian sun, in a small boat tour on the cannals of the inner city of Ghent, followed by a tasty dinner.
The next day, the focus was aimed at the upcoming phase of the project (work package 2). There, the overall goal is to implement a drug efficacy study into the national treatment programs in 11 countries over three continents. After a presentation of the general protocol, the country representatives from Vietnam, Bangladesh, Laos and Cambodia briefly introduced the history of preventive chemotherapy against STH in their countries as well as some information on their organisation and the prevalences registered during the last surveys. Later that morning Prof. Jozef Vercruysse also stressed the challenges and need for incentives during efficacy trials.
The meeting was terminated around lunchtime and the afternoon provided some time for in depth discussions between members of the starworms team and the individual country representatives.
A link to the individual presentations of the second day can be found here (Presentations Day 2)
We are very happy to have hosted all partners in Ghent and hope they enjoyed the meeting as much as we did.
The Starworms Team.