UGANDA— The Makerere University Lung Institute (MLI), renowned for its work in managing respiratory diseases in sub-Saharan Africa, has partnered with the Ugandan government to spearhead the Clinical Trial of Natural Therapeutics (CONAT) programme.

This announcement coincides with Uganda’s Clinical Trials Day, and this pioneering CONAT programme promises to change healthcare by not only uncovering solutions but also utilising nature’s potential, according to the local daily Nile Post

Funded by the Ugandan government through the Science Technology and Innovation – Office of the President Secretariat (STI-OP), the CONAT program aims to explore the therapeutic potential of natural and herbal remedies.

These remedies will undergo human clinical trials to achieve approval and licensing as safe and effective products.

Clinical trials are essential for testing new treatments, including drugs and medical devices.

The ARVI trial, a key component of this program, is evaluating the safety, pharmacokinetics, and preliminary efficacy of Tazcov and Vidicine for treating acute respiratory viral infections, including SARS-CoV-2, Influenza A and B, and RSV.

This trial aims to validate Ugandan-formulated natural medicines for managing ARVIs, which are prevalent in the Ugandan population.

Dr. Winters Muttamba, the CONAT Program Manager, announced the successful recruitment of the 510th participant in the ongoing Acute Respiratory Tract Infections (ARVI) trial, reporting promising results.

While many local natural medicines exist, their lack of formal scientific trials has deprived the country of potentially effective treatments and economic benefits.

“The journey does not end with the CONAT program; we are extending our efforts to tuberculosis research, enhancing treatment outcomes, and reducing the disease burden,” said Dr. Joanita Nalunjogi, the Clinical Trials Head at Makerere University Lung Institute.

Dr. Nalunjogi highlighted recent breakthroughs from the STREAM trial, which evaluated a standardized treatment regimen for patients with Multi-drug Resistant Tuberculosis (MDR-TB).

This groundbreaking research confirmed that a shorter (6 or 9 months), safer regimen for drug-resistant TB is as effective as the traditional 12-month approach, offering a better outlook for patients and their caregivers.

The STREAM trial, the first of its kind in MDR-TB treatment evaluation, involved multiple research sites in Uganda, South Africa, India, Ethiopia, Moldova, and Georgia.

The study aimed to identify shorter, safer, and all-oral regimens for patients with MDR-TB, with Uganda contributing 56 out of 588 enrolled patients.

The cost of the new 9-month pill treatment was greater for Ugandan study participants, owing to increased spending on additional food to supplement their diet throughout treatment, although the reasons for this remain unclear.

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