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High Hopes for Tuberculosis Drugs, Tools in Pipeline

Interventions in development expected to have major impact on disease incidence

THURSDAY, Aug. 6 (HealthDay News) -- New drug regimens, vaccines, and diagnostic tools currently in development for tuberculosis have the potential to radically change the incidence of the disease worldwide, according to findings published online Aug. 3 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Laith J. Abu-Raddad, Ph.D., of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, and colleagues applied an age-structured mathematical model to determine the impact of novel antituberculosis interventions currently in development. New interventions included vaccinations, drug regimens, and diagnostic tools either currently in the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation portfolio, or which were thought to have potential for inclusion. The Southeast Asia region was used in the model, as it accounts for a large proportion of worldwide tuberculosis cases.

Using the mathematical model, the researchers estimated tuberculosis incidence to be drastically reduced by 2050 with the implementation of neonatal vaccinations (39 to 52 percent), shorter and more efficacious drug regimens (10 to 27 percent), and new diagnostic procedures (13 to 42 percent). A combination of these three interventions was estimated to reduce incidence by 71 percent.

"Our results demonstrate that each of the novel vaccines, drug regimens and diagnostics currently under development offers substantial reductions in tuberculosis incidence and tuberculosis-related mortality compared with current approaches," Abu-Raddad concluded in a statement. "Were these technologies used in combination, there would be an additional powerful synergistic effect."

The study was supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

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