NIAID describes research priorities to fight drug-resistant tuberculosis

April 22, 2008

Tuberculosis (TB) has long been one of the world's great killers. Now, forms of drug-resistant TB--multidrug (MDR) and extensively drug-resistant (XDR)--are occurring at an ominous and accelerating rate. To help in the fight against drug-resistant TB, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, has formulated an MDR and XDR TB research agenda.

A summary of the agenda, authored by NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., and members of the NIAID Tuberculosis Working Group, is now available online in The Journal of Infectious Diseases.

"The TB diagnostic tools in use today are antiquated, slow and insensitive; TB drug regimens are complex and lengthy; and the only vaccine available does not provide effective protection against adult pulmonary TB," says Dr. Fauci. "The challenge of TB control is further compounded by the rise of drug-resistant TB, and we anticipate that the NIAID Research Agenda for Multidrug-Resistant and Extensively Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis will contribute substantively to the fight against this emerging threat."

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 500,000 people worldwide have MDR TB, while the frequently fatal XDR TB has been detected in 46 countries. Factors contributing to the rising tide of drug-resistant TB includeThe NIAID research agenda complements domestic and international efforts to prevent and control the spread of MDR and XDR TB. Whereas the WHO's STOP TB Partnership plan emphasizes increased surveillance and control and treatment efforts, the NIAID agenda focuses on biomedical research. The Institute also collaborates with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other NIH Institutes and Centers on TB research efforts in the United States.

To prevent the further emergence and spread of MDR and XDR TB, the NIAID agenda identifies areas of biomedical research that are likely to contribute substantially to a global public health response. Building on existing efforts within the international network of TB research, NIAID's priorities include efforts toNIAID is leading and sponsoring research activities to create a foundation of knowledge for the discovery of new diagnostics, drugs and vaccines. The Institute also supports the efforts of organizations, such as drug companies and public-private partnerships, to further develop these products into tools and approaches that enhance the quality of care for people with TB.

"Only a concerted global effort can counteract the rise of drug-resistant TB," notes Dr. Fauci. "Development of improved diagnostics and better treatment and control strategies will depend on collaboration with our partners at every research step, from basic science to large clinical trials."
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The full NIAID research agenda for MDR and XDR TB is available at: http://www3.niaid.nih.gov/topics/tuberculosis/default.htm.

NIAID is a component of the National Institutes of Health. NIAID supports basic and applied research to prevent, diagnose and treat infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections, influenza, tuberculosis, malaria and illness from potential agents of bioterrorism. NIAID also supports research on basic immunology, transplantation and immune-related disorders, including autoimmune diseases, asthma and allergies.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH)--The Nation's Medical Research Agency--includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments and cures for both common and rare diseases.

For more information about NIH and its programs, visit http://www.nih.gov.

Reference: AS Fauci and the NIAID TB Working Group. Multidrug-resistant and extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis: The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases research agenda and recommendations for priority research. The Journal of Infectious Diseases DOI: 10.1086/587904 (2008).

News releases, fact sheets and other NIAID-related materials are available on the NIAID Web site at http://www.niaid.nih.gov.

NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

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