NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The Institut Mérieux, its in vitro diagnostics firm BioMérieux, and the Singapore government are investing S$3 million ($2.2 million) to investigate biomarkers to identify individuals who may be at risk for developing tuberculosis and to help guide drug therapies.
As part of the project, a joint laboratory is being created at Biopolis, a scientific R&D hub located in Singapore. There, researchers from BioMérieux and Singapore's Agency for Science, Technology, and Research's Singapore Immunology Network, or SIgN, will study the immune cells in the blood of patients infected with TB but whose disease is inactive. The cells will be compared with those of patients who have active TB and those of healthy controls in order to identify potential biomarkers for TB infection and TB re-activation.
In addition to aiding in the diagnosis of the disease, the research could help clinicians assess and monitor patient response to TB treatment and manage those who have developed drug-resistance to Mycobacterium tuberculosis, SIgN said in a statement.
More than 2 billion people worldwide, nearly one-third of the population, are infected with M. tuberculosis, and about 10 percent of these will develop the disease eventually, SIgN said.
"There is an urgent need to understand and find new ways to eradicate the disease — through prediction, early detection, and effective treatment — and this timely collaboration seeks to accomplish exactly that," Paola Castagnoli, scientific director of SIgN and one of the lead researchers in the project, said in a statement.