Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and Boston Medical Center (BMC) are partnering with the Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research (JIPMER) to study tuberculosis (TB). This research is supported by a five-year, $2.5 million grant from the Indo-U.S. Vaccine Action Program (VAP).
The joint program, based in Pondicherry, India, will establish cohorts of TB patients and their household contacts, or people who live in the same household who have been exposed to the disease. This will allow the researchers to determine the impact of co-morbidities, such as smoking, alcoholism, worm infections, diabetes mellitus and malnutrition on the risk of developing TB and patient’s response to treatment.
“India accounts for 30 percent of the global burden of TB and is one of the countries with the highest burdens of the disease,” said Jerrold Ellner, MD, chief, section of infectious diseases at BMC, professor of medicine at BUSM and U.S. principal investigator. “This study will identify new diagnostic biomarkers that will help determine which, among heavily exposed persons, are at greatest risk of contracting the disease and targets for intervention,” he added.
As study participants are identified, questionnaires, surveys and physical examinations will be conducted. Specimens will be collected, stored and compared to control specimens from the same cohort and sent to a specialized laboratory at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, where they will be analyzed.
One of the most successful initiatives of the U.S.-India collaboration in the advancement of science and technology, VAP recognizes that vaccines are among the most cost-effective ways to control preventable diseases globally. The goal of the partnership is to develop experience in setting up cohorts of populations at high-risk for developing TB suitable for trials of new vaccines.