A deadly, highly contagious and extremely drug-resistant form of tuberculosis has gone beyond the land of the poor and made its way into the upscale parts of the world. Scientists are working feverishly in the hopes they can develop a vaccine for it.
About 650,000 people are now suffering from a strain of tuberculosis that is completely resistant to several types of medicines, and it is bound to get even worse.
According to Emax Health, this powerful form of TB, dubbed the "white plague," is causing great amounts of concern among scientists and as such, a collective dubbed the Stop TB Partnership are plotting out a worldwide plan of attack against the disease that is affecting both the impoverished and the wealthy.
The notion that tuberculosis is a thing of the distant past, exclusive to destitute women and children of the 18th and 19th centuries, is clearly something the masses should now disabuse themselves to. TB is, in fact, very real, very relevant and very dangerous.
“To develop a new TB vaccine that will be fully effective, researchers, donors and other partners will need to collaborate and coordinate their efforts as they address tough research questions.” said Dr. Lucica Ditiu, noting the proverbial all-out war he and Stop TB Partnership are planning to wage on the illness. “We cannot allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by either the costs or the obstacles. It is time to be bold and dare to do more in supporting the development of a new vaccine.”
While typical tuberculosis mainly strikes in Africa, this new, more powerful strain is infecting people in some of the most well-to-do cities in the world. Fox News reports that the English Capital of London has even been nicknamed the "tuberculosis capital of Europe."
Yesterday, another group known as the TB Alliance announced their own plans for a regimen to treat tuberculosis around the globe, including this resilient new strain, reports Mother Nature Network.
"There is new momentum and new hope in TB research, as shown by this and several other novel regimen trials that will soon be launched," said Mel Spigelman, who is president of TB Alliance. "This novel TB drug regimen has the potential to unlock a new and more efficient approach to tackling TB. In essence, it's a step toward erasing the distinction between TB and MDR-TB — and in the process, dramatically shortening, simplifying, and improving treatment."
It is estimated by the World Health Organization (WHO) that 10 million children have lost their parents to TB within the last decade, which amounts to 10 to 20 million adults overall. In 2010, 8.8 million people came down with the highly contagious lung disease, and 1.4 million perished as a result of catching it.
The TB Alliance does confess that many tuberculosis patients do not entirely follow through with treatment because they cannot deal with the side effects from their prescribed medications. In turn, typical forms of TB can mutate into totally drug resistant TDR-TB or even the extremely drug-resistant XDR-TB.
The trials will be done in eight locations spanning South Africa, Tanzania and Brazil, said the alliance. The Stop TB Partnership is looking to find an “ideal vaccine regimens [that] protect babies at birth from childhood TB and prevent infection with the organism in older children and adults.”
Currently, Doctors only have a single vaccine for children, and it is limited in its effectiveness. Bacille Calmette-Guerin, as it is called, protects young boys and girls from TB during the initial years of their lives, but does not take any preventative measure against pulmonary tuberculosis which is found in older children and adults. Even so, scientists are doing research to discover the reason it is more effective in children than adults.
An additional research endeavor in accordance the former entity, the Stop TB Partnership, dubbed Tuberculosis Vaccines: A Strategic Blueprint for the Next Decade, is attempting to enlist the aide of all the nations and health organizations on the planet for helping find new vaccines and regimens.
“The new Blueprint represents the best thinking of the field,” said Dr. Jelle Thole regarding the aforementioned project. “It makes clear that the next 10 years will be vital in moving forward the global search for a dramatically improved vaccine against tuberculosis.”