The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) has tabled a biomedical research agenda that is aimed at preventing the spread of multi-drug-resistant (MDR) and extensively drug-resistant (XDR) forms of tuberculosis.
"The TB diagnostic tools in use today are antiquated, slow and insensitive; TB drug regimens are complex and lengthy; and the only vaccine available does not provide effective protection against adult pulmonary TB," says NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci.
"The challenge of TB control is further compounded by the rise of drug-resistant TB, and we anticipate that the NIAID Research Agenda for Multidrug-Resistant and Extensively Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis will contribute substantively to the fight against this emerging threat," adds Dr. Fauci.
The list of research priorities, appearing online in The Journal of Infectious Diseases, calls for the development and testing of reliable technologies to rapidly diagnose TB, and to identify drug resistance.
The NIAID also calls for defining what is the most effective use of the existing TB therapies and other antibiotics available to treat the drug-resistant forms of the disease.
It stresses the need for developing new medicines, particularly to treat MDR and XDR TB.
The organisation says that gaining a deeper understanding of the basic biology of TB-causing bacteria, and their interaction with the human host that underlie the development of drug-resistant TB is the need of the hour.
It also stressed the need for a better understanding of the epidemiology of drug-resistant TB.
Various manifestations of TB in adults, children, and people with co-infections like HIV/AIDS need be investigated, says the report.
The report also calls for increasing research efforts to develop new vaccines and other preventive strategies.
"Only a concerted global effort can counteract the rise of drug-resistant TB. Development of improved diagnostics and better treatment and control strategies will depend on collaboration with our partners at every research step, from basic science to large clinical trials," says Dr. Fauci.