Advances in tuberculosis control during the past decade

27 March 2023

The editorial titled: Advances in tuberculosis control during the past decade published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine on 23 March, highlights the need for a multi-sectoral commitment, approach and strategies to end tuberculosis as a public health threat globally.

Authors Kogie Naidoo and Rubeshan Perumal outline the significant gains made over the past decade in understanding TB transmission dynamics, point of care diagnostics and shorter, efficacious treatment strategies. This despite the severe disruptions to health systems and accessibility to TB diagnosis and treatment during the Covid-19 pandemic. “Nevertheless, the past decade has celebrated several major scientific breakthroughs that could advance the achievement of a tuberculosis-free world. 

There is optimism around several major advances in the scientific understanding of tuberculosis transmission and pathogenesis, improved diagnostic assays for M tuberculosis detection and resistance profiling, and the implementation of shorter, safer, and more effective regimens for the treatment of tuberculosis.” The editorial highlights the importance of current and future research in identifying clinical and sub-clinical TB patients particularly in crowded settings using geospatial maps and targeted interventions to curb transmission. The incidence of drug resistance tuberculosis has increased globally highlighting the need for better diagnostics and accessibility to safe, effective, and shortened treatment regimens especially in resource constrained settings. 

The authors point out that while BCG, which was first introduced in the 1920s, remains the only licensed tuberculosis vaccine, the past decade has seen significant advances in tuberculosis vaccine development. Ten vaccine candidates are currently undergoing clinical trial evaluation and clinical trials of mRNA-based tuberculosis vaccine candidates are currently in development. 

“To achieve a tuberculosis-free world, however, more progress is needed in developing an effective tuberculosis vaccine, implementing coordinated multi-faceted tuberculosis control interventions, mitigating the socio-economic drivers of tuberculosis, and sustaining high levels of political support to bring new scientific advances to the field.” 

See here for further reading: Naidoo K, Perumal R, Advances in tuberculosis control during the past decade, Lancet Respir Med 2023.doi:10.1016/S2213-2600(23)00090-5