Special Reports

Biomedical TB Research

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The causative agent of tuberculosis (TB), Mycobacterium tuberculosis, is estimated to infect one-third of the world's population.

 The causative agent of tuberculosis (TB), Mycobacterium tuberculosis, is estimated to infect one-third of the world's population and is responsible for the largest number of deaths attributable to a single infectious agent. South Africa ranks second in the world in incident cases of TB and the crisis has been heightened by the emergence and spread of drug resistant strains of Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

The Centre for Biomedical TB Research (CBTBR) is currently the only DST-NRF centre of excellence in the biomedical field and is hosted jointly by the universities of Stellenbosch, the Witwatersrand and Cape Town.

The strategic objectives of the CBTBR are to make significant contributions to the knowledge base through world-class research; to develop and evaluate new tools for controlling TB; and to develop human capital using research as a vehicle for training the next generation of researchers.

Research in the CBTBR spans the continuum from basic to applied, and falls into three main thematic areas: Mycobacterium tuberculosis physiology and metabolism of relevance to drug discovery and drug resistance; bridging the gap between basic and clinical TB research; and host responses to TB.

The CBTBR has created a wide network of regional, local and international collaborations and linkages and uses the combined knowledge and expertise as a platform for brokering information and rendering services at various levels. The CBTBR investigates new tools for the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of TB. It also supports the rollout of new diagnostic tests and plays a pivotal role in the impact of these technologies on TB in SA.

Experimental approaches that are based on a post-genomic research strategy play a particularly important role. The CBTBR also aligns with the department of science and technology's 10-year innovation plan for the years 2008 to 2018).

One of the five grand challenges in this plan is the farmer-to-pharma value chain, to strengthen the bioeconomy, which is strengthened through the CBTBR's research into TB drug discovery.

The leading role that the CBTBR has played in building partnerships with biomedical TB research groups, and with clinical TB research groups both locally and internationally, aligns fully with the plan's objectives to progress towards a knowledge-based economy.

For more information visit www.tuberculosis.org.za or contact Dr Bienyameen Baker [email protected]

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