FORT COLLINS – Researchers at Colorado State University are launching the most realistic study ever conducted into how transmission of the tuberculosis pathogen triggers infectious disease, CSU announced.
The study is expected to yield new insights into a disease that attacks the lungs and kills an estimated 1.5 million worldwide every year.
The study will be based at the Airborne Infection Research Facility near Pretoria, South Africa – one of the world’s tuberculosis hot spots, CSU said.
A grant of nearly $1 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is funding the research, led by Diane Ordway, Randall Basaraba and Ian Orme, part of CSU’s world-renowned Mycobacteria Research Laboratories.
The CSU team is also working with Harvard University colleague Edward Nardell.
Over the next several weeks, infected patients will come to the research facility and stay in a sealed tuberculosis ward. Noninfected guinea pigs – some vaccinated against tuberculosis – will be exposed to the infected human patients.
The study is expected to reveal how some immune systems resist the disease while others become infected.
“Ethically, we would never expose people to Mycobacterium tuberculosis for a study, so this is the most realistic model for us to use as we try to establish novel vaccines and new therapeutic drugs for tuberculosis,” said Ordway, a faculty member in the CSU Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology.