Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS



Project ID: 12166
Country: France

EU and China collaborate to fight Tuberculosis

China suffers from around 500,000 new cases of tuberculosis every year. A significant percentage of these are resistant to the drugs used for treating the disease.
EU and China collaborate to fight Tuberculosis
Extensive use of the traditional Bacillus Calmette Guerin (BCG) vaccine has not resulted in the eradication of tuberculosis (TB), particularly in countries where the use of drug therapies has been irregular and inadequate. A particular strain of TB known as the Beijing family has now been identified and found to predominate in China.

This strain has spread across Asia to Eastern Europe and is particularly prevalent in Russia and countries of the former Soviet Union. Rapid dispersion of the Beijing strain may be because they have developed certain advantages, such as multidrug resistance. An alternative scenario is the rapid spread of a few well-adapted bacteria with the same genetic make-up, following the migration of infected individuals.

The 'The diversity of Mycobacterium tuberculosis strains in China: tracing the origins of the worldwide dispersion of the multidrug-resistant Beijing genotype' (Tuberculosis China) project conducted large-scale epidemiological studies to determine how M. tuberculosis strains vary and can adapt to new treatments or vaccines. European and Chinese partners have created a high quality genotyping procedure that can analyse thousands of strains at low cost.

Researchers collected data on BCG status, age, sex and other clinical information regarding patients. This was conducted in order to identify bacterial families and determine their distribution across the country. The data was then compared to the characteristics of strains collected in other countries.

The EU-funded project partners identified two new families of strains, which account for the majority of non-Beijing family isolates in China. The genotype of each new strain will be sequenced in search for therapeutic targets, which can be modified by a drug resulting in a therapeutic effect.

Tuberculosis China represented an exciting collaboration between European and Chinese scientists who successfully exchanged experience, methodologies and ideas in order to defeat an old enemy.

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