Understanding SNIP-AFRICA: The purpose and power of the severe neonatal infection platform

In an era marked by increasing antimicrobial resistance, which threatens the effectiveness of commonly used antibiotic treatments for childhood infections and sepsis, projects like SNIP-AFRICA stand out as examples of innovation in interventional research. They represent the pursuit of multiple strategies in an integrated way to address the challenges arising from antibiotics failing to eliminate resistant bacteria causing infections in newborns and infants. 

SNIP-AFRICA is an EDCTP3-funded clinical research network, whose aim is to conduct innovative adaptive trials in sub-Saharan Africa. It comprises 12 partner institutions from Africa and Europe looking to establish a severe neonatal infection platform, with the common goal of improving the evidence base for high-burden, high-impact infectious diseases affecting hospitalised newborns.

But what does the term “platform” mean in this context?

In the context of SNIP-AFRICA, “platform” refers to a dedicated research infrastructure or architecture that allows the exploration of multiple primary questions simultaneously. This architecture brings together different research groups and sites under a common plan – a core protocol, with multiple associated domains. It is a well-structured system for conducting research, providing a set of rules that everyone follows while maintaining flexibility to adjust based on new information, especially in a critical area like antibiotic research. 

The strength of this platform lies in its flexibility. Using this approach, SNIP-AFRICA will conduct gold standard clinical trials with possible adaptations, not only in the questions asked but also within the trials themselves, responding promptly to emerging evidence and antibiotics of interest.

Despite this flexibility, a specific framework assures coherence. To facilitate clear interaction among all the elements of the platform, the project is building an overarching governance structure. This structure is designed to provide the necessary foundation and direction, allowing the project to move forward effectively.

To sum up, SNIP-AFRICA’s severe neonatal infection platform:

  • Will address multiple primary questions within one core protocol and respective associated domains;
  • Combines the opportunity of conducting gold-standard clinical trials with adaptations to emerging evidence and agents of interests;
  • Is “planned to be flexible” but references an overarching patient population, disease or outcome assessment;
  • Can accommodate a range of innovative designs under a coherent governance structure.

All the elements mentioned above ensure that SNIP-AFRICA is an efficient and adaptable way of doing research, designed to tackle the urgent challenge of severe neonatal infections in sub-Saharan Africa. Through this innovative approach, SNIP-AFRICA aspires to improve the way severe infections in hospitalised newborns and infants are treated, safeguarding the health of these very vulnerable populations.

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