UNAIR alumnus takes part in tuberculosis vaccine development team in European Union

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Satria Arief Prabowo PhD (Photo: By courtesy)

UNAIR NEWS – Dr. H. Satria Arief Prabowo, MD., PhD (Satria) started taking part in the tuberculosis vaccine development team while undergoing research training in Groningen, the Netherlands in 2012. He continued the research during his doctoral program at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK.

Satria who received an award from MURI as the youngest doctoral graduate in Medical Sciences in Indonesia in 2019, was interested in developing a vaccine considering that Tuberculosis (TB) is widely known as low community’s disease in Indonesia. In fact, TB is a disease that greatly affects the productivity of sufferers’ lives, thus making them even poorer.

Moreover, during his medical education at FK UNAIR, Satria encountered and handled many children and adults with TB.

“I then began to look for the cause of the high TB cases. Apparently the current BCG vaccination has not been very effective in preventing TB in adults, so we need a new vaccine that is more effective,” he said.

On the other hand, TB treatment takes a long time to six months, making it difficult for the patient to heal and trigger further illnesses. Satria’s research while taking doctoral studies aimed at answering these two problems.

Shortening TB therapy from 6 to 1 Month

Through a research consortium funded by the European Union, Satria’s project aims to develop therapeutic vaccinations for TB sufferers. This approach is quite unique because vaccinations generally given to prevent disease can also be given to patients who are already sick to awaken the immune system. Moreover, the vaccination has the potential to shorten the treatment period of TB sufferers.

“Our target of TB therapy can be shortened from 6 months to 1 month, and that will have a big impact so that the TB disease rate can be reduced significantly in the world,” he continued.

The vaccine development was completed at the end of 2019 after undergoing phase III clinical trials with satisfactory results. In early 2020, Satria and the team met WHO TB Program Director who later agreed to provide support for the vaccine to be implemented in TB endemic countries such as Indonesia in the near future.

TB vaccine research has also been presented at several prestigious international congresses such as at the European Society for Pediatric Infectious Diseases (ESPID) congress in Madrid, Spain (May 2017) and Ljubljana, Slovenia (May 2019). The vaccine is in the process of obtaining a license.

Satria is among the youngest researchers in vaccine research in Europe because the average age of researchers there was almost 30 years. As for senior researchers, the average age is over 40 years.

Satria has presented his research after an Associate Professor from Harvard at an International congress. Even though he was nervous, his presentation went well and received positive feedback from the experts. “One thing that I appreciate from developed countries is that all are assessed based on capacity. If someone is considered capable, age is not an obstacle, “he concluded. (*)

Author: Galuh Mega Kurnia

Editor: Binti Q. Masruroh

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