After the discovery of Streptomycin in the 1940s, followed by isoniazid in the 1950s and later rifampin in the 1970s, the incidence of Tuberculosis (TB) in the developed world dropped dramatically. Sanatoria closed and research into new antibiotics and vaccines likewise diminished. TB was no longer considered a significant threat in the US and much of Europe. So when multiple drug-resistant strains of TB (MDR-TB) appeared in the 1980s, the concern within the infectious disease community was perhaps understated. Besides, all but a small number of cases were in underdeveloped countries where the very high cost and difficulty of treating MDR-TB was considered beyond reach.
The 600-year tuberculosis epidemic continued to grow in regions of the world through the 1900's. If the organism was to be halted, a truly global public health strategy would be needed.
Today, tuberculosis (TB) is a global pandemic. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 2 billion people (a third of the world’s population) are infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium which causes the disease. Fisher BioServices UK is currently collaborating with partners on a global phase III clinical trial to create a biobank of blood, urine and sputum samples taken from TB-positive patients during treatment. These samples can be used in the future to test potential biomarkers of treatment response that may serve as surrogate endpoints for long-term relapse data. Samples have been collected in the Phase III for the evaluation of one of the fourth generation synthetic uoroquinolone antibacterial agent in the treatment of sputum-smear-positive tuberculosis trial. The collection of samples will be pursued from at least another 1000 patients and if researchers are successful in identifying new biomarkers, these efforts could lead to the first new drug approved in the treatment of drug-sensitive TB in 50 years.
To learn more about the objective, methods, and progress of the first tuberculosis biobank in the UK, download our scientific poster below!