Time to eliminate ‘silent killer’ TB, say top scientists

March 31, 2022 10:21 pm | Updated 10:21 pm IST - HYDERABAD

Top scientists from across the country gave a call for putting an end to the prevalence of the ‘silent killer’ called tuberculosis (TB), which had shown an increasing trend in these COVID years.

TB is a serious infectious bacterial disease that mainly affects the lungs and is spread through aerosols when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

World Health Organisation (WHO) chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan, in her message, underscored the need to speed up clinical trials for vaccines in the making and also diagnostics. She was addressing a webinar on “TB - Silent Killer: understanding the disease, dynamics and diagnostics and treatment”, organised by the Tata Institute for Genetics and Society (TIGS) on Thursday.

Scientists from across the country, including CSIR-Centre for Cellular & Molecular Biology (CCMB) director Vinay Kumar Nandicoori and former director and TIGS director Rakesh Mishra also participated.

Dr. Swaminathan said that India can show the way to the world by taking up an an early detection programme engaging the communities including voluntary bodies, making use of rapid diagnostic tests and best available therapies, as the incidence is vastly under-reported.

Dr. Rakesh Mishra said TIGS, located in NCBS (National Centre for Biological Sciences) campus in Bengaluru, is a non-profit institute with an objective to deal with issues like crop improvement, rare genetic diseases and infectious diseases. “We are keen to intervene into novel diagnostics for eliminating TB and it needs a multi-pronged approach,” he said.

Dr. Vinay Kumar Nandicoori gave a presentation on latest lab studies on the disease progression and pointed out that TB has killed more people over the years than COVID. NCBS scientist Varadha Sundaramurthy said its a big challenge to stop entry of bacteria into the body as receptors are many and highlighted the importance of host based therapeutics.

Post-graduate Institute of medical education & research (PGIMER), Chandigarh’s Sadhana Sharma gave an overview of the promising nanotechnology based drug therapy which can get over the limitations like patients non-compliance and drugs toxicity. Targeted drugs, right dose, right time, better adjuvant to avoid inflammation will help prolonged retention of drugs in the body, she added. AIIMS-Delhi’s Urvashi B. Singh said the institute has been witness very serious cases of TB during the pandemic.

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