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Published on 23 April 2008

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Calls for research into drug-resistant TB

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The growing incidence of multidrug (MDR) and extensively drug-resistant (XDR) tuberculosis (TB) is prompting calls for more international research into treatments.

In response to the treat of drug-resistant TB, the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, is planning an MDR and XDR TB research agenda.

NIAID director Dr Anthony S. Fauci, said:  “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.

“The challenge of TB control is further compounded by the rise of drug-resistant TB, and we anticipate that the NIAID Research Agenda for MDR and XDR TB will contribute substantively to the fight against this emerging threat.”

“Only a concerted global effort can counteract the rise of drug-resistant TB,” said 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.”

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 include a lack of routine testing to determine TB drug-sensitivity; incomplete treatment of people infected with TB-causing bacteria; the epidemic of TB in HIV-infected people; and limited TB research by pharmaceutical companies, resulting in few new anti-TB drugs or other interventions

NIAID strategy includes the aims of developing and testing reliable technologies to rapidly diagnose TB and to identify drug resistance and to define the most effective use of existing TB therapies and other antibiotics available to treat drug-resistant TB and develop new drugs.

National Institutes of Health



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