World TB Day

22.03.2017 by Sabina Beatrice-Matter    

On 24 March, we commemorate World TB Day. Tuberculosis remains one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide with annually 1.8 million deaths. 250,000 of them are due to resistance to regular treatment. Swiss TPH aims at contributing to the fight against TB, through our activities in basic research, clinical trials and health interventions.

In 2015, 10.4 million new cases were detected of which 11% people living with HIV. There are an estimated 480,000 new cases of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) and an additional 100,000 people with rifampicin-resistant TB. World TB Day aims to build awareness of TB and urge governments to take action; this year under the theme „Unite to End TB: Leave No One Behind “, thus focussing on vulnerable people.

Swiss TPH has been active in many aspects of TB research and control, from the host-pathogen interaction and the evolution of antibiotic resistance, the host immune responses to TB infection to evaluations of TB control efforts. For example, we worked with the Institut Pasteur and BioVersys on the recent discovery of a new strategy to reverse antibiotic resistance in TB. This strategy has the potential to improve treatment options for people with MDR-TB and was recently published in Science

Swiss TPH is also an active member of the Pan-African Consortium for the Evaluation of Antituberculosis Antibiotics (PanACEA). In early March, the partners held a kick-off meeting in Cape Town for the second project phase which aims to shorten and simplify treatment of uncomplicated pulmonary TB and to increase the TB clinical trial capacity in Africa. In the frame of PanACEA2, Swiss TPH will investigate resistance mechanisms to novel drugs using whole genome sequencing and comprehensive bioinformatic analyses. Furthermore, we will guide and support the conduct of clinical trials on new TB drugs in Tanzania in collaboration with the Ifakara Health Institute.

Finally, on behalf of the Global Fund, Swiss TPH currently studies the factors which contribute to favourable MDR-TB treatment outcomes in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.