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In this blog, Dr Marco Polo Peralta, a senior scientist at NDM’s Jenner Institute provides insight into his research work on tuberculosis and shares how he thinks the 2030 TB elimination goal can be achieved.

The current effort in TB vaccine research is primarily focused on developing next-generation vaccines that aim to provide better protection than the current standard BCG vaccine. This involves understanding the immune response to Mycobacterium tuberculosis and identifying antigens that can induce a more effective and long-lasting immune response. As an example, during my DPhil, I characterised the role of vaccine-induced antibodies against Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection. Finding these could be potential correlates of protection to inform better vaccine testing and design.

The current focus is to research new drug candidates that can shorten TB treatment regimens and are effective against drug-resistant strains. This involves both the screening of novel compounds and the repurposing of existing drugs that may have efficacy against TB.

Rapid and accurate diagnosis of TB is crucial for effective treatment. Current efforts are focused on developing more sensitive and specific diagnostic tests that can be easily deployed in low-resource settings. These include point-of-care tests and the use of AI to improve diagnostic imaging techniques.

In my professional opinion to meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of ending TB by 2030, the following strategies need to be prioritised:

Increased international collaboration and funding are critical to support TB research, healthcare infrastructure, and access to medicines, especially in high-burden countries.

Ensuring that everyone, especially vulnerable populations, has access to diagnosis, treatment, and care without financial hardship. This includes strengthening health systems and integrating TB services with primary healthcare.

TB is closely linked to poverty, malnutrition, crowded living conditions, and comorbidities like HIV/AIDS and diabetes. Addressing these underlying factors is essential for reducing TB incidence.

Accelerating the development and deployment of new vaccines, diagnostics, and treatments. This also includes leveraging digital health technologies for better disease surveillance and patient management.

Engaging communities and people affected by TB in the design and implementation of TB programs ensures that interventions are culturally appropriate and more effective.

Read more about Marco’s research work here: