Dissecting the Immunological Interplay between Poverty Related Diseases and Helminth Infections: An African-European Initiative

There is wide geographic overlap in occurrence, co-infections between worms and HIV, TB and malaria that occur in tens of million of people in both children and adults. Preliminary epidemiological data indicated that globally about 25% of individuals affected by HIV, malaria or worm infections are co-infected. Although worm infections and HIV, TB and malaria have been extensively investigated, there has only recently been increased attention to the potential impact of co-infections between worms and HIV, TB and malaria. Indeed, there is little information on the effects of worm infections on the HIV-, TB- and malaria-specific immune responses in humans, and little evidence as to whether such effects are detrimental, neutral or even beneficial. There is limited knowledge of the influence of underlying worm infections on the clinical course of HIV, TB and malaria. Finally, the impact of worm infections on vaccination requires further investigation, as the very limited data available suggests reduced effectiveness of vaccines in subjects with worm infections.

The primary objective of IDEA is to determine whether and how the presence of worm infections modulate

• immune responses specific to HIV, TB and Malaria

• the clinical course of these diseases

• and vaccination and vaccine-induced immune responses



The IDEA project ( has developed a global and innovative strategy which includes: a) the alliance between African and European leading scientists in the field of worms, HIV, TB and malaria, b) the multidisciplinary expertise involving immunologists, parasitologists, epidemiologists, clinicians, and experts in vaccines, c) cutting edge immunology and the most innovative technologies to profile immune response, d) the access to large cohort studies bringing a number of centres working on worms and PRDs in Africa together, and e) the access to experimental HIV, TB and malaria vaccine candidates under clinical development in Africa.

Expected Results

Started March 2010, ongoing

IDEA will directly support the:

• Advancing of immunological understanding of what effect worm infections can have on altering immune responses (innate and adaptive) against HIV, TB and malaria

• Advancing of understanding of clinical outcome in worm/HIV, TB and malaria co-infections. Through combining the analysis of immunological outcome with clinical outcome, IDEA will be able to link specific profiles to disease and subsequently obtain important information on what effect immune response alterations have on altering disease course

• Improving of immuno-modulatory drugs/interventions. IDEA will unravel what immune alterations are beneficial in co-infections and potentially decipher what will be good immune-modulatory compounds for use in augmenting or diminishing immune responses against a number of infections. Furthermore, IDEA will be instrumental to complement the information as to whether de-worming programmes are beneficial for the health of communities with high burden of worms and malaria/HIV/TB. This question is yet unanswered, although WHO recommends regular de-worming to improve health in endemic countries

• Improving of vaccine design. IDEA will gain a better understanding of which immune responses need to be mounted (or not) in an effective vaccine against HIV, TB and malaria and whether the immune response is altered in the context of co-infection with worms.


IDEA is a large-scale integrated project funded by the European Commission 7th Framework program.

Partners:  The Idea Consortium

The MMRC is one of multiple partners within this large research consortium, which involves 21 partner institutions from five African (Gabon, Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda and Tanzania) countries and six European (Swtizerland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and UK) and. The consortium is lead by Professor Guiseppe Pantaleo, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois, Lausanne, Switzerland. Other Consortium members are:

European Malaria Vaccine Initiative - Statens Serum Institut, Denmark; Leiden University Medical Center, Netherlands; London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Great Britain; University of Oxford, Great Britain; Swiss Tropical Institute, Switzerland; Eberhard Karls University of Tuebingen, Germany; Kenya Medical Research Institute– Wellcome Trust Collaborative Programme, Kenya; MRC/UVRI Uganda Research Unit on AIDS, Uganda; Agence nationale de recherches sur le sida et les hépatites virales; Istituto Nazionale Malattie Infettive L. Spallanzani , Italy; Institut National de la Sante et de la Recherche Medicale, France ; University of Ibadan, Nigeria; EuroVacc Foundation, Switzerland; Ifakara Health Institute, Tanzania; Academisch Medisch Centrum bij de Universiteit van Amsterdam, Netherlands; Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, Germany; National Institute for Medical Research - Mbeya Medical Research Programme, Tanzania; Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Switzerland; Medical Research Unit, Albert Schweitzer Hospital; Gabon

Team MMRC: Petra Clowes (Clinical Research & Field work Coordinator), Mkunde Chachage (Junior Scientist and PhD student, Immunology laboratory), Lilli Podola (Supervisor, Immunology laboratory), Anthony Nsojo (Worm diagnostics, EMINI laboratory), Dickens Kowuor (Data department) and Leonard Maboko (Site Principle Investigator)


Team LMU: Christof Geldmacher (Immunology), Elmar Saathoff (Epidemiology) and Michael Hoelscher (Site Principle Investigator)


First publications are expected in 2012

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