Stop TB Partnership

Why is research essential to stop TB?

Progress in global TB control is constrained by the lack of effective new "tools" (diagnostics, drugs and vaccines). Many of the existing tools available for TB control are old and insufficient to address the epidemics globally:

  • TB control programmes in resource-poor countries have little choice but to use a method of diagnosing the disease (sputum smear microscopy) that is 125 years old and detects only half of the cases.
  • No new drugs in widespread use have been developed for more than 40 years. The present 6-month treatment regimen, developed in the 1970s, demands close supervision, is difficult to use in HIV co-infected persons, and cannot be used in patients infected with multi-drug resistant (MDR) strains.
  • The only vaccine available (BCG) is effective in protecting children against severe forms of TB but affords little protection in adults against developing the infectious form of TB.
  • More effective and widely accessible tools are needed to make a greater impact on the global TB burden, especially in areas where HIV and drug-resistance render TB control complex and difficult.

Therefore, the development of better technologies for preventing TB and improving the diagnosis and treatment of TB has to be promoted urgently.