Part of the foundation's Grand Challenges in Global Health initiative, the program will provide funding for innovative TB biomarker research that speeds the development of a low-cost, simple-to-use tool that can quickly and accurately diagnose the disease. The foundation is partnering on the effort with the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics, which will help monitor the grant portfolio and supply clinical TB samples, and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, which is co-funding one of the grants.
The biomarker program is part of a broader effort to catalyze innovation in TB control, including the development of new TB drug regiments and vaccines. Each year, 8.8 million people, many of them in the world's poorest countries, contract the disease. Currently, diagnoses of TB rely on laboratory-based technology which often fails to diagnose a significant portion of active cases or requires weeks to do so and is of little use to patients without access to lab facilities.
"There is an urgent need to break through barriers in biomarker research in order to develop a highly sensitive point-of-care diagnostic to improve identification of active TB cases," said Chris Wilson, director of global health discovery at the Gates Foundation. "We hope these innovative ideas lead to effective and affordable TB diagnostics that can make an impact on one of the world's deadliest infectious diseases."
For information on the ten grantees, visit the Gates Foundation Web site.