Gates Foundation to fund TB diagnosis programs in low-resource areas

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation recently announced that it will spend $7.7 million to fund 10 new grants aimed at identifying biomarkers for diagnosing tuberculosis in low-resource areas.

The new grant program, "Biomarkers for the Diagnosis of Tuberculosis," is intended to support new and innovative research into TB biomarkers that will aid in the development of a low-cost, simple-to-use tool that can quickly and accurately diagnose TB in developing countries, according to Scoop.co.nz.

The new program is part of the Gates Foundation's Grand Challenges in Global Health initiative. The Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research will partner with the Gates Foundation to help monitor the grant portfolio and supply clinical TB samples from the developing world.

"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 Gates Foundation, said, Scoop.co.nz reports. "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."

Worldwide, 8.8 million people are newly diagnosed with TB, many of them in the world's poorest countries. TB diagnosis currently relies on laboratory-based techniques, which often fail to identify active cases and can take weeks to complete. Often, patients without access to these facilities are bypassed altogether.