NIH experts call for transformative research approach to end tuberculosis

March 9, 2018, NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
This photomicrograph reveals Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria using acid-fast Ziehl-Neelsen stain; Magnified 1000 X. The acid-fast stains depend on the ability of mycobacteria to retain dye when treated with mineral acid or an acid-alcohol solution such as the Ziehl-Neelsen, or the Kinyoun stains that are carbolfuchsin methods specific for M. tuberculosis. Credit: public domain

A more intensive biomedical research approach is necessary to control and ultimately eliminate tuberculosis (TB), according to a perspective published in the March 2018 issue of The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. In the article, authors Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, and Robert W. Eisinger, Ph.D., special assistant for scientific projects at NIAID, discuss the need to modernize TB research by applying new diagnostic, therapeutic, and vaccine approaches. The perspective is based on a lecture delivered by Dr. Fauci on Nov. 17, 2017 in Moscow at the first World Health Organization Global Ministerial Conference, "Ending TB in the Sustainable Development Era: A Multisectoral Response."

TB, a bacterial infection that typically infects the lungs, is one of the oldest known human diseases and the leading infectious cause of death worldwide. The authors recall the significant HIV/AIDS research advances made in the nearly 37 years since AIDS was first recognized, and encourage the scientific community to strive for comparable TB milestones.

Specifically, the authors call for systems biology approaches (using large data sets and modeling to understand ) to fill critical knowledge gaps in understanding how Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) infection causes . Such research could help explain why some people infected with Mtb have latent infections and show no signs of disease while others, especially those co-infected with HIV, become sick. The perspective also underscores the need for improved diagnostic tests, including those that can detect Mtb in various specimens as well as rapid, inexpensive tests that can detect drug-resistant TB.

Lengthy and complex treatment regimens and an increasing number of multi-drug-resistant TB infections make the disease increasingly difficult to cure. The authors note that the ultimate treatment goal should be drug combinations administered for shorter time periods that can cure people infected with any strain of Mtb. Another research goal is a safe and more broadly effective vaccine, which remains one of the most difficult challenges, according to Drs. Fauci and Eisinger. However, they explain, a vaccine and other significant advances are possible with an innovative and aggressive biomedical research program and rapid translation of results into global control strategies.

Explore further: Durable end to the HIV/AIDS pandemic likely will require an HIV vaccine

More information: Anthony S. Fauci et al, Reimagining the Research Approach to Tuberculosis †, The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (2018). DOI: 10.4269/ajtmh.17-0999

Related Stories

Durable end to the HIV/AIDS pandemic likely will require an HIV vaccine

October 9, 2017
Despite remarkable gains in the treatment and prevention of HIV infection, development of an effective HIV vaccine likely will be necessary to achieve a durable end to the HIV/AIDS pandemic, according to a new commentary ...

Monoclonal antibodies crucial to fighting emerging infectious diseases

March 8, 2018
Monoclonal antibodies (mAbs)—preparations of a specific type of antibody designed to bind to a single target—have shown promise in the fight against cancer and autoimmune diseases. They also may play a critical role in ...

One-month TB prophylaxis as effective as nine-month regimen for people living with HIV

March 5, 2018
A one-month antibiotic regimen to prevent active tuberculosis (TB) disease was at least as safe and effective as the standard nine-month therapy for people living with HIV, according to the results of a large international ...

Durable end to AIDS will require HIV vaccine development

February 5, 2014
Broader global access to lifesaving antiretroviral therapies and wider implementation of proven HIV prevention strategies could potentially control and perhaps end the HIV/AIDS pandemic. However, a safe and at least moderately ...

Strategic plan for developing a universal influenza vaccine

February 28, 2018
Developing a universal influenza vaccine—a vaccine that can provide durable protection for all age groups against multiple influenza strains, including those that might cause a pandemic—is a priority for the National ...

Recommended for you

Drug targets for Ebola, Dengue, and Zika viruses found in lab study

December 13, 2018
No drugs are currently available to treat Ebola, Dengue, or Zika viruses, which infect millions of people every year and result in severe illness, birth defects, and even death. New research from the Gladstone Institutes ...

Faster test for Ebola shows promising results in field trials

December 13, 2018
A team of researchers with members from the U.S., Senegal and Guinea, in cooperation with Becton, Dickinson and Company (BD), has developed a faster test for the Ebola virus than those currently in use. In their paper published ...

Urbanisation and air travel leading to growing risk of pandemic

December 13, 2018
Increased arrivals by air and urbanisation are the two main factors leading to a growing vulnerability to pandemics in our cities, a University of Sydney research team has found.

Researchers discover new interactions between Ebola virus and human proteins

December 13, 2018
Several new connections have been discovered between the proteins of the Ebola virus and human host cells, a finding that provides insight on ways to prevent the deadly Ebola virus from reproducing and could lead to novel ...

Faecal transplants, 'robotic guts' and the fight against deadly gut bugs

December 13, 2018
A simple compound found in our gut could help to stop dangerous bacteria behind severe, and sometimes fatal, hospital infections.

Taking the virus out of a mosquito's bite

December 12, 2018
They approach with the telltale sign—a high-pitched whine. It's a warning that you are a mosquito's next meal. But that mosquito might carry a virus, and now the virus is in you. Now, with the help of state-of-the-art technology, ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.