UNIVERSITAS AIRLANGGA NEWS – Dr. H. Satria Arief Prabowo, MD., PhD 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.
During his medical education at Faculty of Medicine 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.
In 2019, Satria was also entrusted to be in a team making WHO guidelines for the handling of Multidrug Resistant Tuberculosis (MDR TB) in children and adolescents in the European region. The book was published in 2019 and accessible on the WHO website .
“My participation in the drafting team of the handbook was considered due to my experience over the past few years in this field,” Satria said.
The success of Dr. H. Satria Arief Prabowo, MD, PhD (Satria) in developing an oral vaccine for TB became a trigger for him to also take part in the Covid-19 vaccine development team which is currently a major problem in the world. The vaccine development has been carried out since April 2020.
“Furthermore, the high case of Covid-19 in Indonesia and East Java in particular, makes Satria as a doctor need to contribute to provide solutions,” he said.
The vaccine being developed is Covid-19 oral vaccine in the form of tablets that can be consumed. The oral vaccine aims to improve the human immune system (immunity) in fighting the virus. Slightly different from drugs that target the virus directly.
“This strategy (oral vaccine in the form of tablets, ed ) will be more efficient and can be given to more people in a shorter time, compared to injection (injection, ed ),” explained Satria.
The vaccine development is in cooperation with an international consortium. The vaccine prototype is ready. Clinical trials are also underway and will run in Canada, Russia, Ukraine, China, Britain, Mongolia, and in the near future also in Surabaya.
The vaccine is named V-SARS-Covid-19. The vaccine contains a component of the virus that causes Covid-19 disease that has been inactivated so it is safe to healthy people to prevent illness or sick people to speed healing.
“Our target is that in the middle of this year the vaccine can be given to medical personnel who are at high risk of exposure to Covid-19 and patients who are in critical condition,” he continued.
Meanwhile, widespread use of vaccines is targeted in the end of this year. This is to prevent the second wave of Covid-19 which is feared to be greater in scale.
In addition to be in a vaccine development team in Europe, Satria is also a consultant from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK (LSHTM) for the development of the Covid-19 oral vaccine in Indonesia, at the Institute of Tropical Disease (ITD) UNAIR in collaboration with Immunitor Ltd. which is a non-profit vaccine development institute in Europe.
During this pandemic, Satria believed that God would give the best for His servants who tried. Satria also believes that parents’ blessing has an important role in life. Satria hopes that UNAIR community and Indonesian people can be enthusiastic, sincere, and strict in their service and work.
“InsyaAllah, the results will not betray the efforts we all make,” he said.
Satria also believes that hard work and devotion are the main keys to success. According to him, someone could be smart, but if he does not want to work hard, then the achievements obtained will not be better than those who are not smarter but work hard. For this reason, the spirit of working hard, willing to try to achieve goals, and a high work ethic need to be instilled early on.
“Hopefully all the dedication of medical workers who are currently struggling to treat Covid-19 patients in Indonesia are rewarded by Allah SWT,” he concluded. (*)