Global Distribution of Tropical Diseases

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Confronting the scientific obstacles to global control of tuberculosis

11 Jun 2008

Paul Chinnock

Source: Journal of Clinical Investigation (see original article or PDF)


Citation: Young DB, Perkins MD, Duncan K, Barry CE 3rd. (2008). Confronting the scientific obstacles to global control of tuberculosis. J Clin Invest 118(4): 1255-1265. doi:10.1172/JCI34614

© 2008, The American Society for Clinical Investigation

The review authors describe the many barriers to be overcome in controlling TB as ‘formidable’ but – having summarised recent progress in the areas of diagnosis, drugs and vaccines – they conclude that: ‘...never in history has more brain power been focused on the scientific issues surrounding TB. Never has there been a higher chance that a real breakthrough in detection, treatment, and prevention tools will transform global health.’

The review forms part of a global health series in the Journal of Clinical Investigation which has been funded by an unrestricted educational grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Articles in the series are accessible freely online.


Tuberculosis (TB) is a major threat to global health, recently exacerbated by the emergence of highly drug-resistant forms of the disease-causing pathogen and synergy with HIV/AIDS. In 2006, the Stop TB Partnership published ‘The global plan to stop TB: 2006–2015’, which set out a vision of halving the prevalence of and mortality caused by the disease by 2015, followed by eliminating the disease as a public health problem by 2050. This vision depends on the development of improved diagnostics, simpler treatment, and more effective vaccination. Recently, active translational research pipelines directed toward each of these goals have been established, but improved understanding of the fundamental biology of this complex disease will prove to be the key to radical advances in TB control.


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