Brussels, 10 Sep 2002
A new DNA test which can detect tuberculosis in a matter of hours could be a key tool for the EU in its attempts to combat communicable diseases, particularly AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, in developing countries.
The new DNA test developed by UK scientists can detect tuberculosis in two to three hours. Professor Mike Barer from Leicester University used the results from the decoding of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacterium genome to look for markers that could be used to detect the germ. Previous testing methods could take weeks to provide results, which were sometimes inaccurate.
'It's the beginning of the pay-off in genetic technology for the control of infectious diseases. A huge amount of money was invested in sequencing M. tuberculosis. This is really a very direct application which has been of day to day use to practising physicians,' said Professor Barer.
The EU is supporting a partnership between Europe and developing countries with 200 million euro, which will be used to develop new medicines and vaccines against HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.
The Commission's 'European and developing countries clinical trials partnership' (EDCTP) will see the 200 million euro EU funds matched by 200 million euro from participating countries' national clinical research programmes and 200 million from other donors as well as industry.
Combating these three diseases is also a priority under the Sixth Framework programme (FP6) for research and technological development, and is listed under the thematic priority area 'Life sciences, genomics and biotechnology for health'.