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Gates Foundation Commits $280 Million for Research to Fight Global TB Epidemic
Date:9/18/2007

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New TB Diagnostics Within Reach

The Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) will use its new grant to advance development of up to 10 new TB diagnostic tests, in the hope of obtaining World Health Organization approval of one or more tests within five years.

Over the past few years, FIND and its partners have identified a number of new diagnostics that could be more accurate than existing TB tests, and could improve diagnosis of the disease in areas that lack sophisticated health care facilities.

"The difficulty of diagnosing TB is one of the greatest obstacles to controlling the disease, particularly in patients who also have HIV/AIDS," said Dr. Giorgio Roscigno, CEO of FIND. "We're closer than ever to improved diagnostics, which will help ensure that people infected with TB receive prompt and proper care."

The standard test used to diagnose TB misses half of cases, and requires culturing a patient's sputum sample in the laboratory and examining it with a microscope after an intensive multi-step process. It has been estimated that improved diagnostics could help save at least 400,000 lives every year.

Grants to Spur Innovative TB Drug Discovery

The nine grants for early-stage discovery projects will identify leads for new TB drug compounds that are more effective than current treatment options.

Developing new TB treatments is an urgent priority because resistance is growing to drugs that were once widely effective for curing the disease - last year there were more than 400,000 cases of drug-resistant TB. In addition, there is a need for faster-acting TB drugs; current drugs must be taken for at least six months to be fully effective.

"To stay ahead of TB drug resistance, we need to pursue new, out-of-the- box ideas that have not yet been tested," said Dr. Yamada. "These grants could help bring about a new generation of more effective drugs to significantly advance our ability to fight TB."

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SOURCE The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Copyright©2007 PR Newswire.
All rights reserved

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