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A*STAR and Institut Merieux/bioMerieux invest S$3m ($2.2m) in tuberculosis research
Date:8/12/2010

An investment of S$3 million is being pumped into tuberculosis (TB) research by A*STAR's Singapore Immunology Network (SIgN), bioindustrial group Institut Mrieux and its in vitro diagnostics company bioMrieux. The project, which involves setting up a joint laboratory in Biopolis, Singapore aims to investigate and identify novel biomarkers that could allow early identification of individuals at risk of TB disease development and disease reactivation. This could lead to better diagnosis and treatment for the highly contagious disease.

At the shared lab, researchers from SIgN and bioMrieux will study the immune cells in the blood of infected individuals without active TB, and compare them with those in individuals with active TB, as well as non-infected healthy controls. Any change in gene expression and behaviour of the immune cells will then be analysed to identify biomarkers associated with TB infection and/or TB re-activation. This information would be especially pertinent to clinicians and researchers as current tests cannot reliably detect if the individual is at risk of developing the disease. In addition, the identification of predictive biomarkers will also help clinicians accurately assess patients' responses to TB treatment and deal appropriately with those who have developed drug resistance to Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium responsible for causing TB. This will lead to early and accurate assessment of the effectiveness of treatment in TB patients.

One of the lead researchers involved in the collaboration is Prof Paola Castagnoli, Scientific Director of SIgN. Said Prof Castagnoli, "The risk of developing active TB is higher in persons with weak immune systems, especially in those infected with HIV, and young children under the age of five. There is an urgent need to understand and find new ways to eradicate the disease through prediction, early detection and effective treatment and this timely collaboration seeks
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Contact: Yunshi Wang
wang_yunshi@a-star.edu.sg
656-826-6443
Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore
Source:Eurekalert

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