July 29, 2011 – 2:08 pm
The following is a post from guest blogger Niya Chari, RESULTS Canada
This year, RESULTS Canada began supporting the work of Dr. Santiago Ramón-García, a tuberculosis researcher at the University of British Columbia’s Department of Microbiology by helping to endorse his application for research funding from Grand Challenges Canada (http://www.grandchallenges.ca/). Dr. Ramón-García’s project seeks to identify new drug combinations of existing medications that combat tuberculosis with greater efficacy than current therapies.
We are happy to announce that Dr. Ramón-García has now been listed as one of 19 Canadian Rising Stars in Global Health by Grand Challenges Canada and will receive funding to help take his bold, idea to the next level. Each of the 19 innovators will receive a grant of $100,000. If their ideas are robust, effective, and proven, the innovators will be eligible for an additional scale-up grant of up to $1 million for each proposal.
Dr. Ramón-García’s project, which would dramatically shorten the current TB treatment regimen and also address the serious and emerging global threat of multi-drug resistant and extensively drug resistant TB has the potential to save millions of lives around the world.
Globally, TB is a major cause of suffering and mortality worldwide. There are 9.4 million new cases of TB reported annually and 1.7 million people die from the disease each year. Despite the devastation, today’s TB drugs are more than 40 years old and must be taken for 6-9 months. Erratic or inconsistent treatment breeds drug resistant strains.
The emergence of drug-resistant strains has reaffirmed TB as a global public health emergency. Drugs used to treat multi-drug resistant (MDR) and extensively drug resistant (XDR) TB are less potent, more toxic, prolonged, and much more expensive than the drugs used to treat standard TB. Multi-drug resistant TB drugs can cost US $5000 or more, and extensively drug resistant TB treatment is far more expensive. Alternative therapies are urgently needed both to shorten the duration of the current TB treatment, as well as to treat MDR- and XDR-TB.
Funding from Grand Challenges will have a huge impact in propelling this project forward, and moving the therapies closer to being in the hands of the people who need it, no matter their location or financial means. This Canadian-led solution to cut the most deadly strains of TB-using innovative combinations of existing TB drugs- will dramatically alter the scope of global TB control, thereby easing the death toll in a few years, rather than a few decades.