|Statement of Christine F. Sizemore, Ph.D., Barbara E. Laughon,
Ph.D., and Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious
Diseases National Institutes of Health on World TB Day, March 24, 2006
March 24, 2006 is World TB Day, which commemorates both the struggles and successes
in the worldwide fight against tuberculosis, a longtime microbial adversary.
TB, a global infectious disease threat, claims the lives of more than 1.7 million
people each year and disables many of the 15.4 million individuals currently
afflicted with this disease. Co-infection with HIV, the steady increase in the
number of multi-drug resistant cases of TB, and the recognition that our current
arsenal of drugs may be failing, only increases the urgency and the need to expedite
the development of new approaches to the identification, treatment, and prevention
of this ancient scourge.
This year began with a sense of hopeful resolve as the Stop TB Partnership announced “The
Global Plan to Stop TB 2006 — 2015” at the World Economic Forum in Davos,
Switzerland. This plan articulates a coordinated global strategy to stop the
spread of TB through implementation of optimized TB care worldwide. The plan
assesses current research needs and activities for the development of new drugs,
vaccines and diagnostics to meet the Millennium Development goal “to have halted
by 2015, and begun to reverse the incidence” of TB.
The importance and impact of a solid scientific foundation on current strategies
and specific changes to improve TB care during the next 10 years is evident in
each chapter of the Global Plan. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious
Diseases (NIAID) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has a central role
to play in this process: the Institute supports research to increase fundamental
knowledge about TB and other infectious, allergic and immunologic diseases and
to translate this knowledge into new health care interventions for human populations
Dedicated TB investigators supported by the NIAID have shown tenacity and vision
in their research endeavors and have created new candidate vaccines, drugs and
diagnostics now being evaluated in human studies. These successes have shown
that investments in fundamental and translational science, often criticized as
being far removed from patients, is a prerequisite of, and the first step toward,
the production of new health care interventions. The TB research community is
to be congratulated for translating the support of research funders all over
the world, including the NIAID, into tangible outcomes.
Much work remains, but for the first time in the history of TB research, a significant
number of TB countermeasure candidates are available for clinical testing. For
example, this past June, a promising new TB drug called PA-824 entered clinical
trials. Preclinical studies suggest that the drug is effective against both proliferating
and slow-growing forms of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the microorganism that
causes TB. Current treatments for active TB require multiple drugs for long periods;
however, PA-824 may potentially decrease the required duration of treatment.
More than ten additional drug candidates are currently undergoing preclinical
In addition, several promising TB candidate vaccines also have been developed.
Two vaccines, rBCG30 and Mtb72f, currently are being tested in clinical trials
in the United States and a third vaccine has been shown to be safe and immunogenic
in tests conducted in Europe. Nearly a dozen additional vaccine candidates also
are being evaluated in preclinical studies.
These promising drug and vaccine candidates have been developed in part through
successful public-private partnerships among government-funded researchers, industry,
philanthropies and others. There is reason to be optimistic that several additional
advances will result in new products for TB and TB/HIV care worldwide, or will
at a minimum, teach us how to enhance development of improved strategies and
methods for combating this disease.
Each year, World TB Day provides a time to reflect on the milestones we have
set for the elimination of TB and to evaluate whether we are moving expeditiously
toward the goals we have agreed to pursue. This year, with multiple new drug,
vaccine, and diagnostic candidates on the horizon, NIAID is proud to support
talented investigators within our research portfolio and applauds the efforts
of other institutions throughout the world that are involved in this endeavor.
Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., is Director of the National Institute of Allergy and
Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at the National Institutes of Health. Christine F.
Sizemore, Ph.D., is Acting Chief of the Tuberculosis and Other Mycobacterial
Diseases Section in the NIAID Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases.
Barbara E. Laughon, Ph.D., is Chief of the Complications and Co-Infections Research
Branch of the Therapeutics Research Program in the NIAID Division of AIDS.
Media inquiries can be directed to the NIAID News Office at 301-402-1663, firstname.lastname@example.org.
NIAID is a component of the National Institutes of Health, an agency of
the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIAID supports basic and
applied research to prevent, diagnose and treat infectious diseases such as
HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections, influenza, tuberculosis,
malaria and illness from potential agents of bioterrorism. NIAID also supports
research on transplantation and immune-related illnesses, including autoimmune
disorders, asthma and allergies.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's Medical Research
Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of
the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal
agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical
research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common
and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit http://www.nih.gov.