Improved TB diagnostics needed

Burnet Institute

23 March, 2013

Improved TB disgnostics are needed.

World TB Day 2013 - Stop TB in my Lifetime

Every day 4000 people lose their lives to tuberculosis (TB) and while it is more common in developing countries, there are still a number of new cases identified in Victoria each year.

Deputy Director of the Burnet Institute and Head of the Diagnostic Development Laboratory, Associate Professor David Anderson says there is an urgent need for improved TB diagnostics for both developing and developed countries.

Associate Professor Anderson and his team are developing an innovative diagnostic test, which may be able to detect if a patient has TB using just a drop of blood.

This project is possible through a tuberculosis (TB) biomarkers grant through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Grand Challenges in Global Health program, an initiative which seeks to overcome persistent bottlenecks in creating new tools that can radically improve health in the developing world.

“Our project through the TB Biomarkers grant is focused on detection of active TB in adult patients in high-prevalence, developing countries,” Associate Professor Anderson said.

“With the support of the John Burge Trust Fund - we will use this same ‘drop of blood’ approach to develop a test to better screen new immigrants to Australia (from countries where TB is prevalent) and patients with suspected TB, to better manage potential disease without being as invasive as current methods.”

State Trustees administers the John Burge Trust Fund, which will provide $50,000 to the Burnet Institute to support groundbreaking research that could help revolutionise tuberculosis diagnoses, treatment and prevention across the world.

With support from the Australia-China Council, the Institute is also collaborating with China’s Institute for Pathogen Biology (IPB) to apply the same approach in their patient populations, which will hopefully provide improved tools for detecting individuals with active TB particularly in resource-poor parts of China, who can then be prioritised for appropriate drug treatment.

“Better diagnostics are necessary to achieve effective control of this disease using the drugs that are available now and likely to be available in the near future, especially until there is a much better vaccine,” Associate Professor Anderson said.

If you would like to ‘Stop TB in My Lifetime’ you can help by donating to Burnet’s research programs.

2013 is the second year of a two-year campaign for World TB Day, with the slogan “Stop TB in My Lifetime” supported by the WHO.


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Burnet Institute

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