Gates Foundation funds TB biomarker research

Tuberculosis is a major problem in the developing world: 8.8 million people are diagnosed with the disease every year. TB is a contagious bacterial infection that is easily treated in the early stages, but around half of the people who develop the full-blown disease will die. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has announced $7.7 million in funding to find biomarkers to help early diagnosis and support more effective treatment.

Projects being funded include a microarray screening tool to find antibodies that signal the presence of active TB, a program to validate urine TB biomarkers to develop a simple point-of-care diagnostic, and blood and urine tests based on exosomes secreted by infected cells.

"There is an urgent need to break through barriers in biomarker research in order to develop a highly-sensitive point-of-care diagnostic to improve identification of active TB cases," said Chris Wilson, director of global health discovery at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "We hope these innovative ideas lead to effective and affordable TB diagnostics that can make an impact on one of the world's deadliest infectious diseases."

Since 1994, the Gates Foundation has made grants of more than $26 billion to projects in the U.S. and worldwide. This grant program, Biomarkers for the Diagnosis of Tuberculosis, was created to support research into TB biomarkers, with an aim to develop low-cost and simple diagnostics for the developing world. The TB program is a collaboration between the Gates Foundation, the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics, which will supply clinical TB samples from developing countries, and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. It is part of the Gates Foundation's Grand Challenges in Global Health initiative.

- read the press release