Clif Barry of The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the U.S., working with Qian Gao of Shanghai Medical College Fudan University in China, will support a clinical trial to shorten the treatment time for tuberculosis (TB) from six months to four months by helping to identify predictive biomarkers in individuals that only require the shorter treatment. Shortening treatment when possible will substantially reduce costs and the emergence of drug resistance, which is a major barrier to eradicating this deadly disease. The phase 2b clinical trial will recruit 620 TB patients at multiple clinics in South Africa and China who will be monitored for disease burden by PET/CT scans and diagnostic assays during treatment, and will supply blood and sputum samples for testing. He will analyze RNA and inflammatory markers in serum samples from the Chinese trial participants to identify more robust biomarkers for predicting shorter treatments. He will also determine the strains of the causative Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the source of any reinfection (relapse or new infection), and the presence of drug resistant bacteria in these patients, and how these link with treatment duration and disease outcome.
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