The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has issued a statement for World TB Day on the need to effectively diagnose, treat, and cure those infected with tuberculosis (TB).

World TB Day commemorates the day when in 1882 German microbiologist Robert Koch announced his discovery of the bacterium that causes tuberculosis (TB). TB remains one of the world’s deadliest diseases despite the considerable progress made since that discovery; in 2013, an estimated nine million people became ill with TB, and 1.5 million people died, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

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Innovations such as mathematical modeling and genome mapping of complex biological structures have provided greater understanding of how Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) causes the disease, as well as the various stages of Mtb infection and TB disease. The TB Clinical Diagnostic Research Consortium, supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), is evaluating several investigational diagnostics and their impact on TB management in endemic countries. The NIAID is also supporting the development of the WHO-endorsed GeneXpert MTB/RIF TB diagnostic test that can detect Mtb and drug resistance in samples within two hours.

With treatments, there are approximately 20 investigational TB treatments and treatment combinations currently undergoing clinical trials. In 2014, a new type of treatment called host-directed therapy was identified, in which the body’s response to TB bacteria is manipulated rather than targeting the bacteria itself. Effective prevention strategies, including a vaccine are necessary in order to control TB infection and several candidate vaccines have demonstrated efficacy in animal models. These candidate vaccines are now being tested in humans, including patients with HIV co-infection.

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