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Public Health Rep. 1998 Mar-Apr;113(2):128-36.

The tuberculosis epidemic. Scientific challenges and opportunities.

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Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, USA.


One in every three people on Earth is believed to be infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis, leading to seven to eight million cases of active tuberculosis (TB) per year and approximately three million deaths annually. this epidemic, like those of most infectious diseases, creates scientific challenges and opportunities as it raises the demand for public health solutions. The currently available weapons for fighting TB are inadequate. The ultimate goal of biomedical TB research is to lessen the public health burden of this disease by developing improved diagnostic, therapeutic, and intervention strategies. Achieving this goal requires a base of knowledge about the biology of M. tuberculosis and related mycobacteria, their interactions with human and animal hosts, and the nature of an effective host-protective immune response. TB researchers are applying this accumulating base of knowledge to developing rapid, easy-to-use diagnostic assays appropriate for low-as well as high-income countries, improving the current complicated therapeutic regimen, identifying potential new drugs to combat multidrug-resistant TB, and creating more effective vaccines.

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