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Brighton & Sussex Medical School

latest news: combating Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis news

Tuberculosis (TB) is a major focus of multidisciplinary investigation at The Wellcome Trust Brighton and Sussex Centre for Global Health Research.  


January 2017

'Survival gene' stops strains of TB mutating into deadly 'superbugs'

Published in the journal Nature Communications, the study reported the discovery of a gene called NucS that dramatically reduces mutation rates in mycobacteria – the infectious microbe that causes TB.

Tuberculosis is the leading cause of death worldwide by an infectious disease, killing 1.8 million people every year. Drug-resistant TB is on the rise, with drug-resistant strains of the disease identified in 105 countries and TB accounting for one-third of all drug-resistant bacterial infections. The research team believe that the identification of this key pathway, required to supress mutation rates in mycobacteria, is an important step towards understanding how ‘superbugs’ develop.

Read the full story here >

December 2016

Congratulations to Dr Filomena Perrone

Filomena was awarded her PhD for studying the regulation of a tetR-transcriptional regulator in Mycobacterium smegmatis and Mycobacterium tuberculosis at the Department of Environmental, Biological and Pharmaceutical Science and Technology, Università della Campania Luigi Vanvitelli, Italy and at BSMS.

November 2016

TB research group receives significant Wellcome Trust funding to define early markers of treatment success

Dr Simon Waddell has been awarded over £99K from the Wellcome Trust to define early markers of treatment success for tuberculosis. The project will use the divergent responses of Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria coughed out in sputum during the first few days of drug therapy to identify patients who might be able to stop the six-month long treatment early.

Dr Waddell enthused: "This is a new and exciting field of research that could significantly reduce the burden of lengthy drug therapy for many TB patients, and dramatically reduce the cost of tuberculosis clinical trials".

The research, at the Wellcome Trust Brighton and Sussex Centre for Global Health Research, is an international collaboration with The Royal Free Hospital University College London and The University of Buea, Cameroon.


September 2016

Funding award for Ms Rehab Ahmed 

Congratulations to Rehab Ahmed in the Department of Pharmaceutical Microbiology, University of Khartoum, Sudan for winning funds for a 4 month research visit to WTBSCGHR to investigate the action of novel anti-tuberculosis compounds. 


August 2016

Congratulations to Dr Leticia Muraro Wildner 

Leticia was awarded her PhD for studying the activity and mode of action of novel anti-mycobacterial compounds derived from plant extracts at the Universidad Federale de Santa Catarina, Florianopolis, Brazil and at BSMS. 

June 2016

Santander Knowledge Transfer Grant 2016

Daire Cantillon, a third-year PhD student supervised by Dr Simon Waddell, has been awarded the highly competitive Santander Knowledge Transfer Grant 2016. He will be visiting the Universidad Federale de Santa Catarina, Florianopolis, Brazil to learn how to isolate anti-bacterial compounds from Brazilian folk medicines and build research collaborations towards identifying novel compounds for the treatment of tuberculosis. 

TB News - Santander Knowledge Transfer Grant 2016


April 2016

It is possible to predict how well tuberculosis (TB) responds to drug treatment, according to a new study at BSMS

Dr Simon Waddell, working with a team of researchers from the UK, South Africa and Finland, has discovered bacterial biomarkers that predict early treatment success. This may allow patients to finish drug therapy early, reducing the difficult and debilitating side effects of the drugs and cutting treatment costs.

There were 9 million new cases and 1.5 million deaths from TB in 2013, and there are around 6,000 cases in the UK annually. The standard drug therapy is a combination of four drugs taken over six months. Side effects can be severe, and it can be difficult for patients to stay on treatment for the duration of therapy, leading to ineffective treatment and the emergence of drug-resistant TB.

Dr Waddell and collaborators mapped the responses of TB bacteria during standard drug therapy to understand why some bacteria survive through months of drug treatment. The study showed for the first time that by testing patients’ sputum, specific changes could be identified in the TB bacteria two weeks after starting drug therapy that could predict the success of treatment six weeks later.

“This exciting proof-of-principle study showed that bacterial responses could be used to understand drug action in patients, and that these signatures may be used as biomarkers allowing us to predict when patients may safely finish treatment,” says Dr Waddell.

“Profiling TB bacteria in this way may help find predictive markers of treatment success that are desperately needed in clinical trials and in the clinic. This would reduce the cost of drug trials needed to test new drugs for TB, and allow doctors to quickly stratify patients who are not responding to drug therapy.”

The study ‘Profiling persistent tubercule bacilli from patient sputa during therapy predicts early drug efficacy’ was published in BMC Medicine in a special collection to mark World TB Day 2016.

Honeyborne, I, TD McHugh, I Kuittinen, A Cichonska, D Evangelopoulos , K Ronacher, PD van Helden, SH Gillespie, D Fernandez-Reyes, G Walzl, J Rousu, PD Butcher, SJ Waddell (2016). Profiling persistent tubercule bacilli from patient sputa during therapy predicts early drug efficacy. BMC Med; 14:68. 


February 2016

Book chapter in Advances in Tuberculosis Medicinal Chemistry published 


Evangelopoulos, D and SJ Waddell (2016). The use of transcriptomics to predict drug efficacy and treatment outcome in tuberculosis, in Advances in Tuberculosis Medicinal Chemistry (M Kurosu, W Denny, eds.), Future Science Ltd; 90-103.