Department of Medicine

Tuberculosis

Mycobacterium tuberculosis is one of mankind’s most successful pathogens: around 8 million people develop tuberculosis every year, resulting in 2 million deaths. Most people mount an immune response that is sufficient to control initial infection but they remain susceptible to reinfection or reactivation disease in later life. Immunological evidence suggests that up to two billion people worldwide may harbour latent tuberculosis, with a ten percent lifetime risk of developing active disease. In 2006 the Stop TB Partnership set out a Global Plan to Stop TB, with the aim of cutting prevalence and mortality in half by 2015, as a step towards elimination of TB as a public health problem by 2050 (http://www.stoptb.org/global/plan/). Development of improved drugs, diagnostics and vaccines is central to the Global Plan.

New Drugs for TB

There is an urgent need for new drugs to combat the progressive development of antimicrobial resistance amongst clinical isolates of M. tuberculosis. Current drugs are effective against actively replicating bacteria, but have to be administered for prolonged periods in order to prevent reactivation in patients with active disease or in individuals with latent infection. This is thought to be due to persistence of a sub-population of non-replicating, phenotypically-tolerant bacteria. Characterisation of the phenotypic characteristics of M. tuberculosis during active and latent infection is a central component of a major international collaborative project to develop “Drugs for Treatment of Latent Tuberculosis” jointly funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust as part of a programme to address Grand Challenges in Global Health (http://www.gcgh.org/). 

For more information on the work of this group, please refer to our page on the Centre for Molecular Bacteriology and Infection website.

Tuberculosis research group

Tuberculosis research group (2010): Professor Douglas Young, Dr Nitya Krishnan, Dr Kerstin Williams, Dr Guy Thwaites, Dr Brian Robertson, Rachael Goldstone, Dr Samantha Sampson, Dr Jim Louttit, Graham Joyce

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