NIAID Combats Tuberculosis on Many Fronts
To combat the re-emergence of tuberculosis (TB) and the spread of drug-resistant strains of the TB organism, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) has formulated a broad-based research agenda to combat TB on many fronts.
Zeda F. Rosenberg, Sc.D., assistant to the director of NIAID, plans to present the agenda in an oral presentation at the IX Annual International Conference on AIDS in Berlin, Germany, on June 9 at 5 p.m. NIAID is the lead institute for TB research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), funding more than 50 projects related to the disease. Dr. Rosenberg coordinates the NIAID TB research effort and is the NIH representative to the U.S. Public Health Service Task Force to Combat Multi-Drug Resistant TB.
The NIH has responded to the public health emergency of tuberculosis with a multi-faceted research plan that addresses all aspects of the disease," says Dr. Rosenberg. "NIAID is well-positioned to lead this effort with our long-standing expertise in immunology, microbiology and epidemiology and in drug and vaccine development, honed as part of our research programs in microbiology and infectious diseases as well as AIDS."
In FY 1993, NIAID will devote an estimated $20.7 million to TB research, a nearly six-fold increase since 1991, Dr. Rosenberg says. NIH-wide, TB spending will total an estimated $35.9 million in FY 1993. In FY 1994, NIAID TB funding will increase to an estimated $28.0 million and NIH-wide, to $46.5 million.
Other NIH agencies that fund TB research include the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, the National Center for Human Genome Research, the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
Approximately 1.7 billion people -- one third of the world's population -- are infected with the predominant TB organism, Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Worldwide, TB kills nearly 3 million people every year, more than any other infectious disease. In the United States, TB has re-emerged as a serious public health problem, fueled by the HIV epidemic, immigration from TB-endemic areas and poor living conditions associated with homelessness and poverty. In 1992, a total of 26,678 cases of TB, in all 50 states, were reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an increase of 20 percent since 1985.
Of particular concern is the growing number of people with multi-drug-resistant TB (MDR-TB), caused by M. tuberculosis strains resistant to two or more drugs. Even with treatment, the death rate for MDR-TB patients may be as high as 40 to 60 percent, the same as for TB patients who receive no treatment. For people co-infected with HIV and MDR-TB, the death rate may be greater than 80 percent.
The comprehensive NIAID TB research agenda, formulated in 1992, includes support of:
- Studies of the epidemiology and natural history of TB.
- Basic research into the biology of TB.
- Development of new tools to diagnose TB.
- Development of new TB drugs or new ways to deliver standard drugs.
- Clinical trials of anti-TB therapies.
- Development of new vaccines to prevent TB.
- Training to increase the number of TB researchers.
- New ways to educate health care workers and the public about TB prevention.
BACKGROUNDERS ON TB AND THE NIAID TB RESEARCH AGENDA ARE AVAILABLE FROM THE NIAID OFFICE OF COMMUNICATIONS. PRESS CAN CALL (301) 402-1663, MONDAY THROUGH FRIDAY, 8:30 A.M. TO 5:00 P.M., EDT, TO RECEIVE A COPY.
For press inquiries only, please call Greg Folkers at (301) 402-1663.