NIAID’s Plans for TB Research

Tuberculosis (TB) is the leading infectious cause of death worldwide and has claimed more lives than malaria, influenza, smallpox, HIV/AIDS, cholera, and plague combined. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) https://www.niaid.nih.gov as part of NIH, just released their plan to address TB research.

Today, people with TB must take lengthy and sometimes toxic treatment regimens for multidrug resistant and extensively drug resistant TB. To make it even more difficult, people co-infected with TB and HIV can take drugs that may not interact well and can be problematic to take.

The Journal of the American Medical Association article “Addressing the Tuberculosis Epidemic: 21st Century Research for an Ancient Disease” by Anthony S. Fauci, MD, Director of NIAID, detailed the Institute’s new plan for furthering the understanding of TB and plans to develop and apply cutting-edge tools to fight the disease.

According to Dr. Fauci, “NIAID is going to focus on developing effective shorter duration therapeutics for latent and active drug sensitive and drug resistant TB. This may mean, that existing drugs approved for treating TB now may be repurposed so the most effective treatments can be studied to be available and effective over the shortest amount of time.”

The Plan titled “NIAID Strategic Plan for Tuberculosis Research” provides information on how to expand the fundamental knowledge of TB by using modern tools. These tools could advance research in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of TB.

One objective is to standardize and share tools and information. The problem is that in developing TB diagnostics, vaccines, and therapeutics, many diverse organizations from academia to industry are involved and can have different ideas.

According to the plan, the goal is to more rapidly translate biomedical research findings into relevant TB product candidates to maximize the use of available resources. However, this will require the further development of tissue repositories.

Also, effective use of data repositories requires standardized nomenclatures and ontologies plus sophisticated data analysis, plus visualization tools must be developed.. Today, existing NIAID databases could be leveraged to foster collaborations and data sharing.

NIAID will build on its existing investments in clinical research infrastructure and resources in the U.S and locations where TB is endemic. In addition, NIAID resources will be used in settings where HIV and TB are both endemic so that products will be developed for TB as well as products for people co-infected with HIV.

The plan is o recruit new investigators in the field of TB research and at the same time, increase collaborative multidisciplinary research efforts. NIAID plans to draw on the expertise available from diverse disciplines such as immunology, data science, genetics, and epidemiology.

Go to https://www.niaid.nih.gov/sites/default/files/TBStrategicPlan2018.pdf to view the Strategic Plan.

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