In 1999, MHRP launched an international HIV vaccine research program in collaboration with the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) based in Kericho, Kenya. The program has developed expertise and infrastructure to support HIV vaccine, therapeutic and other infectious disease research. MHRP also works with a KEMRI satellite clinic, the Kombewa Clinical Research Centre, in Kisumu County. These programs are known locally as the Walter Reed Program-Kenya. The Moi University Clinical Research Centre in Eldoret is also part of MHRP's NIH-funded Clinical Trials Unit.
Kericho Clinical Research Center
The KEMRI Walter Reed Project Clinical Research Center, which opened in Kericho 2012, has successfully conducted more than 52 studies, ranging from clinical trials of therapeutics and vaccines to cohort studies. The Kericho CRC is part of MHRP’s NIAID Clinical Trials Unit networks, and maintains the high caliber standards and accreditations required for those activities:
- AIDS Clinical Trials Group (ACTG)
- International Maternal, Pediatric, Adolescent, AIDS Clinical Trials (IMPAACT) Network
- HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN)
- COVID-19 Prevention Network (CoVPN)
HIV Vaccine Research
The CRC has conducted three HIV vaccine trials and a new HIV vaccine trial, RV460, is planned to begin in early 2021. It will be a randomized, double blind comparative adjuvant study for a DNA/ Protein Prime/Boost HIV Vaccine using gp145, which was developed by MHRP. One of the adjuvants being evaluated in this study is the MHRP-created ALF product.
Therapeutic studies have also been conducted at the CRC related to HIV/AIDS care and treatment and associated opportunistic infections such as tuberculosis, malignancies (Kaposi’s sarcoma) and malaria.
Over a period of nearly 10 years (2009-2018), the CRC carried out a large prospective acute infection cohort study, RV217. The Kericho site enrolled more than 900 volunteers in the study for twice-weekly blood collections with 34 incident acute HIV infections observed. The high rate of volunteer visit compliance was key to study success.
Kericho continues to support the PEPFAR-funded African Cohort Study (AFRICOS), a 15-year cohort longitudinal study that evaluates the impact of clinical, biological and socio-behavioral issues on HIV infection and disease progression. The Kericho site is also an implementer of the PEPFAR program in the region, so the surrounding community is assured access to HIV care, including antiretroviral therapy.
Other Infectious Diseases Research
The site has also conducted Ebola and polio vaccine trials. Additionally, the site has one Shigella vaccine trial in review, with two others under development. Plans for a yellow fever vaccine trial and a COVID-19 vaccine trial are also in the works.
Kombewa Clinical Research Centre, Kisumu
A KEMRI satellite clinic, the Kombewa Clinical Research Centre in Kisumu County participates in the African Cohort Study and other PEPFAR-supported research for the optimization of HIV prevention and treatment services. Current public health research is being conducted in collaboration with the Kenya Defense Force to investigate factors associated with virologic suppression and drug resistance in HIV positive children and adolescents on ART in Kenya (RV518).
Previously, Kisumu sites also participated in Phase 2 trials to assess a candidate Ebola vaccine regimen, Ad26.ZEBOV and/or MVA-BN-Filo.
Moi University Clinical Research Centre, Eldoret
Moi University Clinical Research Centre (MUCRC) is located at Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH), Eldoret, Kenya. MRHP has worked with the site since 2008, the same year it was selected as a Clinical Research Site for the AIDS Clinical Trials Group (ACTG) Network. As part of that network, the site's work with MHRP is primarily in the area of HIV therapeutics and co-morbidity research.
U.S. Army Medical Research Directorate–Africa
The U.S. Department of Defense has conducted research in Kenya at the invitation of the Kenyan government since 1969. All MRHP activities in Kenya are conducted under the U.S. Army Medical Research Directorate–Africa (USAMRD-A), which is on the campus of the Kenyan Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) in Nairobi.