Fostering TB Research In China

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture
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Officials from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, and from China’s Henan Provincial Bureau of Health will meet in Zhengzhou, China, on April 29 to sign an implementation arrangement intended to foster research on tuberculosis, including clinical research on new treatments for multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR TB). The Henan Provincial Bureau of Health and the NIAID plan to develop jointly a collaborative TB research program at the Henan Provincial Chest Hospital.

“The emergence of drug-resistant strains of tuberculosis in China and elsewhere around the world is deeply concerning to public health officials everywhere,” says NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. “The implementation arrangement is an important step toward what we expect will be a fruitful collaboration between U.S. and Chinese investigators. It also confirms our shared commitment to finding new ways to lessen the burden of tuberculosis.”

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NIAID Principal Deputy Director Hugh Auchincloss, M.D., will attend the signing ceremony. “The new initiative linking Chinese and U.S. investigators in the battle against TB is most welcome, especially in light of the recent call by the World Health Organization for expanded international research to combat this devastating disease,” Dr. Auchincloss says.

According to the latest available figures from WHO, about 1.3 million people in China developed active TB disease in 2007. Researchers at the new center will carry out several projects, including clinical trials of new drugs or drug combinations designed to treat MDR TB and extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR TB).

The WHO estimates that about 5 percent of newly diagnosed TB cases in China are multidrug-resistant, while 26 percent of previously but incompletely treated TB cases are multidrug-resistant. Drug-sensitive strains of TB usually can be treated successfully with a combination of antibiotics, but the lack of potent and affordable second-line TB drugs makes treating MDR and XDR TB extremely difficult. In addition to research leading to new MDR and XDR TB treatment approaches, the investigators also expect to work together to develop improved methods for rapid and accurate diagnosis of drug-sensitive and drug-resistant TB.

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