The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills supports research into TB through the UK Research Councils who support a broad portfolio of research addressing different aspects of the disease. This includes research on vaccines and treatments for antibiotic resistant strains of TB.
The Medical Research Council (MRC) currently supports five projects directly relating to antibiotic resistant strains of TB with a total value of £5.7m. These include studies which aim to identify novel targets for antibacterial drug discovery, the development of new TB vaccines and antibiotics, clinical trials with a focus on translational and implementation research relevant to developing countries, and health services and health systems research.
The MRC is also leading an anti-microbial resistance (AMR) funders’ forum to coordinate activities in this area and an initiative involving all of the UK Research Councils on which aims to tackle resistance and try to develop treatments and diagnostic tools. In addition the MRC also supports a broader portfolio of research into TB likely to improve our understanding and inform future research into antibiotic resistant strains.
The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) are funding research into new treatments for antibiotic resistant strains of TB in addition to research on vaccine development, which while not specifically addressing antibiotic resistant strains is likely to improve our understanding and inform future research.
An Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funded study aims identify barriers to tuberculosis diagnosis and treatment uptake while an EPSRC fellowship is looking at the transmission dynamics of TB.
Researchers are also using the Diamond Light Source, to identify ways of disabling the enzyme that protects the TB bacteria and to understand the structure of the protein that enables the TB bacteria to survive in the human body. It is hoped that this work will make existing treatments easier and more effective and to help design new drugs. The Diamond Light Source is the UK’s national synchrotron, funded by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC).
The UK is also a member of the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) which aims to accelerate the development of new or improved drugs, vaccines, microbicides and diagnostics against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other neglected diseases. In December 2014 the second phase of the partnership, EDCTP2 was launched aiming to contribute over 1billion euros over the next 10 years. Further information can be found at: http://www.edctp.org/