LSTM’s Dr Bertie Squire marked World TB Day today by highlighting the work being taken forward in Liverpool and around the world to more effectively control a disease which kills nearly two million people every year.
Dr Squire said: “Nine million cases of TB are diagnosed globally every year. Although only a tiny fraction of these were reported in the UK, there has been a gradual increase in observed cases, with the last available figures showing more than 800 new diagnoses in the North West, one of the largest increases in the UK.
“As a leading centre for TB research, policy and advocacy for many years, LSTM remains engaged with many different efforts to improve TB control globally. TB is a global disease, transmitted by aerosol droplets from patients with active disease, and we strongly believe that better TB control in those countries worst affected by the disease will be critical to controlling TB cases in the UK.
“After many years with few technological advances, a number of innovations in TB diagnosis have been endorsed by WHO in recent years. There is an urgent need for operational research in many countries to help decide which are most suited to individual countries.”
Dr Squire’s group, within the Collaboration for Research & Systems in TB and HIV-AIDS (CRESTHA), is leading the workplan to evaluate the impact of a number of operational research studies funded by USAID through TREAT-TB, a five year initiative, coordinated by the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union). The initiative encompasses a number of projects in Brazil, South Africa and Russia and includes the first randomised control controlled trial of multi drug resistant treatment which will be implemented by the Medical Research Council.
Dr Squire is a member of LIVTB, a multidisciplinary research grouping between LSTM and University of Liverpool working to maximise the research effectiveness of different projects aimed at innovating in TB control. The grouping meets monthly and also co-ordinates inputs to teaching about TB and TB control.
LSTM has also been involved in a number of successful capacity building projects in TB control through its consultancy company, Liverpool Associates in Tropical Health (LATH).
Amongst other work to tackle TB, LSTM is a partner with the Royal Liverpool University Hospital and the University of Liverpool in Liverpool’s Biomedical Research Centre, funded by the UK’s National Institute for Health Research. One of the central themes of the BRC is pulmonary infection, with two projects focussed on improving the diagnosis and treatment of TB.
The first project aims to develop new methods for diagnosing TB. Although tuberculosis is curable and can be treated successfully, as many as half of all cases may be undiagnosed in many developing countries. Delays in diagnosis compound the rise in the global TB epidemic as undetected individuals remain untreated and increase disease transmission. The project uses protein biomarkers in body fluids of patients who have the disease and compares them with healthy comparison subjects. Several potentially discriminating proteins are now in advanced testing to determine if they might prove useful in the earlier or more accurate diagnosis of TB in the UK and worldwide.
The second project aims to develop new drugs to treat TB. Current treatment relies on drugs developed some 40 years ago. Unfortunately these drugs require long treatment regimes of up to 9 months and are often ineffective due to the drug resistant strains of the disease which have developed. The project is partnering with industry and pooling drug development talent and techniques with the aim of developing a new drug that will be able to kill all TB strains, including those resistant to existing treatments. The project has identified a number of compounds which are being optimised to find the ones which are the safest and most effective, with the aim of beginning human trials within the next three years.
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Notes to Editors
Other events taking place this week to coincide with World TB Day:
- The new LIVTB website (www.lstmliverpool.ac.uk) goes live on World TB Day, highlighting tuberculosis research at LSTM and University of Liverpool.
- The All Party Parliamentary Group on Global Tuberculosis (www.appg-tb.org.uk) held its Group Meeting at the Houses of Parliament on 22 March.
- The Royal Society of Medicine (www.rsm.ac.uk) hosted a one day meeting on TB control on 23 March, where Dr Squire chaired a number of sessions.
Dr Squire was re-elected President of The Union for a third term at the last World Conference on Lung Health in Berlin in 2010. He sits on the Cheshire and Merseyside TB group and is contributing to the next National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines on access to TB services for vulnerable populations.
Liverpool Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) is a partnership between the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust, the University of Liverpool and Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. We carry out research that goes from ‘bench to bedside’ and work with industry to translate scientific findings into practical ways to improve people’s health. To find out more about the health research going in Liverpool go tohttp://www.liverpoolbrc.org
The Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM) has been engaged in the fight against infectious, debilitating and disabling diseases for more than a hundred years and continues that tradition today with a research portfolio in excess of £190 million and a teaching programme attracting students from over 50 countries. www.lstmliverpool.ac.uk
The Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust is one of the largest and busiest university hospitals in the north-west, providing a comprehensive range of specialist and general services to patients across the north-west and beyond. We are unique in hosting a BRC, a Clinical Research Facility and a Biomedical Research Unit for Pancreatic Diseases – the only national centre in the UK. www.rlbuht.nhs.uk
The University of Liverpool is a member of the Russell Group of leading research-intensive institutions in the UK. It attracts collaborative and contract research commissions from a wide range of national and international organisations valued at more than £110 million annually.
Liverpool Associates in Tropical Health (LATH) is a subsidiary consultancy company of LSTM and is a gateway to internationally recognised research, channelling this expertise into influencing policy and transforming practice.www.lath.com