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Case Western Reserve to receive $19.7m to study tuberculosis treatment drugs

John L. Johnson, M.D., Professor of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and pulmonologist at University Hospitals Case Medical Center has been awarded a 10 year, $19.7M contract from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as an international clinical trials site for the Tuberculosis Trials Consortium (TBTC). TBTC, established in 1993, is a partnership of U.S. and international clinical investigators who conduct research about the diagnosis, medical treatment, and prevention of tuberculosis (TB) infection and disease.

As the principal investigator, Dr. Johnson will lead two research teams in the testing of new drugs and shorter and simpler regimens for the treatment of TB that will benefit patients worldwide.

Case Western Reserve School of Medicine will oversee international trial sites in Uganda and the Philippines. Roy Mugerwa, MBChB, MMed, will lead the TBTC site at the Uganda-CWRU Research Collaboration in Kampala, Uganda, globally, one of the most productive centers for TB research. The contract also supports the addition of a new trial site at the Tropical Disease Foundation in Makati City, Philippines, which will be under the direction of Thelma E. Tupasi, M.D. The two sites will enroll patients for clinical trials and substudies conducted by the TBTC; in addition to participating in working groups, committees and protocol teams of the Consortium; and other work to improve TB treatment for patients and TB control programs worldwide. Finally, Kathleen Eisenach, Ph.D., University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, will provide microbiology consulting.

"The Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine has a long tradition of excellence in basic, translational and clinical research in tuberculosis and has been at the forefront of international TB research for more than two decades. My lifetime research goal is to shorten the duration of anti-TB treatment required to treat most patients," says Dr. Johnson, who is also a Professor of International Health. "This CDC contract funds TB researchers at Case Western Reserve to continue our work in conducting clinical trials to improve treatment."

According to the World Health Organization, more than nine million people around the world become sick with TB, and almost one million to two million die each year. In some areas, the disease is epidemic, with hundreds of thousands affected in nations such as China, India, and Vietnam, and in many countries of sub-Saharan Africa.

Tuberculosis is a communicable disease that can be fatal if not treated. TB usually affects the lungs, but can also affect other parts of the body, such as the brain, kidneys, or spine. New, more effective drugs and regimens for persons afflicted with TB are needed since treatment with currently available drugs requires at least six months of therapy. In addition, new drugs are urgently needed to treat patients with multi-(MDR) and extensively drug resistant (XDR)-TB, where TB germs are resistant to two or more of the best drugs currently used to treat the disease.


Contact: Jessica Studeny
Case Western Reserve University

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