Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) says the spread of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) — “a form of tuberculosis that does not respond to standard treatment and can kill in a matter of months” — “is much greater than previously thought,” VOA News reports. “‘Wherever we’re looking for drug-resistant TB we’re finding it in very alarming numbers. And that suggests to us that the current statistics that are being published about the prevalence of MDR-TB are really just scratching the surface of the problem,’ said Dr. Leslie Shanks, medical director for the group,” the news service writes (DeCapua, 3/21).
In this post in USAID’s “IMPACTblog,” guest blogger Joanna Breitstein, director of communications for the TB Alliance, describes an event organized by the Critical Paths to TB Drug Regimens that took place on Monday, “heralding the launch of a new clinical trial that tests tuberculosis drugs in combination.” During the event, “Robert Clay, deputy assistant administrator in USAID’s Global Health Bureau, said that he wants researchers and those who oversee programs in countries to work more closely together,” she writes. A link to video of Clay’s comments is included in the blog (3/20).
“On Tuesday, a global alliance of researchers and scientists — led by the Stop TB Partnership, an umbrella group of health groups — unveiled a ‘blueprint’ to develop a new vaccine [against tuberculosis (TB)] that aims to disrupt transmission in hard-hit countries and communities,” the Wall Street Journal reports. “The blueprint calls for the groups to work together to test new vaccine candidates, and to coordinate fundraising for expansive and expensive human trials, representing the first comprehensive plan of the sort,” the news service writes (Wonacott, 3/20).
USAID’s website features a page dedicated to World TB Day, which will be commemorated on March 24. The page lists information on upcoming events, as well as links to several reports, such as the FY2010 Report to Congress on the Global TB Context (.pdf), stories, and features (3/19).
The TB Alliance on Monday announced it has launched a Phase II clinical trial “of a new treatment regimen for tuberculosis, including for patients with resistance to existing multi-drug programs,” Agence France-Presse reports. “The new regimen being tested could shorten required treatment to as little as four months in both patients with TB and some forms of drug-resistant TB, compared with the current six to 24 months,” the news agency writes, adding, “Costs will also be vastly reduced.” The trial “will take place at eight sites in South Africa, Tanzania, and Brazil, the alliance said,” AFP notes (Santini, 3/19).
The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog interviews tuberculosis (TB) expert Lee Reichman, founding executive director of the New Jersey Medical School Global Tuberculosis Institute, in advance of World TB Day, to be observed on March 24. According to the blog, Reichman discusses “the spread of drug-resistant TB and what he thinks are the most promising advances coming down the scientific pipeline” (Mazzotta, 3/19).
“About 900,000 cases of active tuberculosis (TB) were discovered and treated [in China] in 2011, including 423,000 infectious cases, the Ministry of Health (MOH) announced Monday at a press conference,” Xinhua reports. “Xiao Donglou, a health inspector from the MOH, said at the press conference that China improved its ability to prevent and control TB last year, focusing on HIV/TB co-infections and cases of TB among the country’s migrant population,” noting “1,701 HIV/TB co-infections were reported last year, as well as 51,682 cases of TB among the migrant population,” the news agency writes.
“[O]ften seen in the wealthy West as a disease of bygone eras,” Reuters examines rising rates of tuberculosis (TB) — drug-resistant TB in particular — among the world’s rich and poor. “[R]apidly rising rates of drug-resistant TB in some of the wealthiest cities in the world, as well as across Africa and Asia, are again making history,” Reuters writes. According to the news service, “London has been dubbed the ‘tuberculosis capital of Europe,’ and a startling recent study documenting new cases of so-called ‘totally drug-resistant’ TB in India suggests the modern-day tale of this disease could get a lot worse.”
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is “to give $220 million over five years to the non-profit biotech firm Aeras to develop vaccines to fight tuberculosis [TB], a company statement said Thursday,” Agence France-Presse reports (3/15). The “grant will allow Aeras to advance several vaccine candidates into pivotal large-scale efficacy trials in South Africa and elsewhere,” South Africa’s Health-e writes (Thom, 3/15). According to AFP, Aeras “has developed six possible TB vaccines that are being tested across Africa, Asia, Europe and America” (3/15).
A joint fact sheet on the U.S.-U.K. Partnership for Global Development is available on the White House website. “Through the Partnership, we are working together to achieve better results by advancing economic growth; preventing conflict in fragile states; improving global health, particularly for girls and women; strengthening mutual accountability, transparency, and measurement of results; and mitigating the effects of climate change,” the fact sheet states, elaborating on joint efforts in each of these areas (3/14).