StatinTB consortium publishes a meta-analysis protocol for investigating the impact of statins on inflammatory markers

A new manuscript published by the StatinTB consortium paves the way for future clinical trials on how statins can be repurposed to reduce inflammation effectively. Written during the COVID-19 lockdown, the manuscript is a result of a successful digital collaboration between our PhD students Ms Solima Sabeel and Mr Bongani Motaung and a large team of experienced co-authors. 

Despite the many challenges that the past months’ strict lockdown regulations in South Africa have posed onto the StatinTB consortium, its members continue to achieve strong results. In a recent article, we showcased how the project’s recruitment team managed to revise its recruitment process and recruit the study’s first participants amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We can now safely state that the members of the recruitment team are not the only ones who have managed to stay productive while in home office.

On the 13th of August, the StatinTB consortium published a manuscript titled Protocol for systematic review and meta-analysis: impact of statins as immune-modulatory agents on inflammatory markers in adults with chronic diseases in the medical journal BMJ Open.

Paving the way for future clinical trials on how statins can be repurposed

The StatinTB consortium aims to conduct a meta-analysis using published data to evaluate the efficacy of statins to reduce inflammation. The recently published manuscript describes the protocol that will be followed by the investigators to effectively identify potential studies as well as acquire and analyse data.

The goal of this work is to provide guidance for future clinical trials that are working on repurposing the use of statins to reduce inflammation effectively.

The result of a successful long-distance collaboration

The new manuscript has joint first authors, Ms Solima Sabeel and Mr Bongani Motaung, both PhD candidates from the University of Cape Town (UCT). They started working on the outline in May 2019. Back then, they never could have guessed that a year later, a pandemic would force them to finalise the manuscript while located in different parts of the African continent.

Due to international travel restrictions caused by the coronavirus outbreak, Ms Sabeel was not able to travel back to South Africa as planned after a visit to Sudan earlier this year. While working on the final parts of the manuscript, she and Mr Motaung, supported by Dr Reto Guler, Dr Mumin Ozturk (both from UCT) and Dr Friedrich Thienemann (University of Zurich), communicated via email, WhatsApp messages, and Zoom meetings – sometimes as many as three per day. The long-distance collaboration showed the strength of their teamwork.

“It has been a delight working with Bongani on this manuscript. The way we motivated and supported each other helped us overcome all the hurdles posed by COVID-19 and reach our common goal,” says Ms Sabeel.

“We are both positive and share a similar solution-oriented mindset, and this helped us be flexible and find innovative ways to collaborate while in different locations. I have learned a lot from Solima and truly enjoyed working with her on this manuscript,” says Mr Motaung.

An experienced team of scientists behind the manuscript

The manuscript is a joint effort of a large team of experienced scientists. Dr Guler and Dr Thienemann are joint senior authors as they conceived and developed the concept as well as supervised both joint first authors. Dr Ozturk designed and revised the protocol and provided co-supervision. Valuable and critical scientific insight was provided by the co-authors Dr Sandra Mukasa (UCT), Dr Andre Pascal Kengne (South African Medical Research Council, Cape Town), Dr Dirk Blom (UCT), Dr Karen Sliwa (UCT), Dr Emmanuel Nepolo (University of Namibia), Dr Gunar Günther (University of Namibia), Prof Robert J. Wilkinson (UCT) and Dr Claudia Schacht (LINQ management, Berlin).

The protocol’s PROSPERO registration number is CRD42020169919 and it can be accessed through the website of BMJ Open.