Gates Foundation provides grant for TB biomarkers program

The Foundation of UMDNJ, an affiliate of the New Jersey Health Foundation, announced on Wednesday that it has received a tuberculosis biomarkers grant through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The grant is through the Gates Foundation's Grand Challenges in Global Health program, which is an initiative seeking to overcome bottlenecks in creating novel tools to radically improve health in developing countries. The grant will allow David Alland, a professor of medicine at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, and his colleagues to pursue a research project called Permeable Magnetic Nanoparticles for point-of-care tuberculosis diagnosis.

"There is an urgent need to break through barriers in biomarker research in order to develop a highly-sensitive point-of-care diagnostic to improve identification of active TB cases," Chris Wilson, the director of Global Health Discovery at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said. "We hope these innovative ideas lead to effective and affordable TB diagnostics that can make an impact on one of the world's deadliest infectious diseases."

Diagnostic assays are important for TB control programs, though the methods used to rapidly detect Mycobacterium tuberculosis in patient sputum are limited in how they extract MTB from the clinical sample. Alland's project will create a rapid, simple and sensitive model to magnetically extract MTB from sputum. The MTB extracted with the method can be detected by multiple downstream technologies that can be adapted to detection at the point of care.

Alland's project is one of 10 Grand Challenges TB biomarkers grants awarded by the Gates Foundation.