Funding to set up tuberculosis monitoring tool

Funding to set up tuberculosis monitoring tool

17 Oct 2019 - 13:59

Summary 

  • Every year, tuberculosis kills more than 1.5 million people
  • DNA sequencing could help clinicians decide which treatment is suitable for patients, and could help monitor the spread of drug resistance
  • The ARGENT project, today funded by UK Research and Innovation, aims to pilot a global tuberculosis monitoring service to help track and control this deadly disease

17 October, 2019, Cambridge Tuberculosis (TB) causes more deaths worldwide than any other infection. Reading the DNA of an infecting M. tuberculosis strain provides a digital fingerprint, which could inform a clinician which drugs will or will not work. If shared appropriately, the information can also advise health services about the spread of drug resistance.

Today, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) announced it is awarding funding to 18 projects that hope to identify innovative research solutions to help the world’s most vulnerable people. One of the projects chosen, entitled ARGENT, aims to pilot a global TB monitoring service.

The ARGENT project is a collaboration between the Supranational TB Laboratory for South America, based in Buenos Aires at INEI-ANLIS “Malbran”, and EMBL’s European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI). What is the aim of the project? Implement a tuberculosis DNA analysis workflow, and, in parallel, trial a global TB monitoring service which automatically compares new TB samples against a live global TB database.

“Genetics has the potential to change the way we diagnose and treat tuberculosis,” explains Zamin Iqbal, Research Group Leader at EMBL-EBI. “We hope that this collaboration will enable us to develop a tool that helps clinicians and researchers in the field to track and treat this deadly disease.”

The 18-month project has been funded as part of UKRI’s Global Challenges Research Fund Innovation and Commercialisation programme. The project arose from CABANAa capacity strengthening project for bioinformatics in Latin America, also funded by the GCRF in 2017.

“This is a really exciting opportunity to fund 18 projects through the Global Research Translation awards,” said Helen Fletcher, UKRI Director of International Development. “Each and every one will make a massive difference to peoples’ lives in communities spread across the world to ensure some of the most challenged communities have a brighter future.”

Read UKRI press release here.

Contact the news team

Oana Stroe
Senior Communications Officer
stroe@ebi.ac.uk
+44 (0)1223 494 369

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