Editor's note

On Sunday the world will mark World TB Day. It was on this day in 1882 that Dr Robert Koch announced he had discovered the bacterium that causes TB. Today, TB remains the world’s leading infectious cause of death.

In this special newsletter we feature articles about how far the fight against TB has come, as well as about new breakthroughs.

Efforts to finally combat the disease continue to pre-occupy scientists. Andrew Nunn and I.D Rusen share important findings from their recently published research on improving the treatment of drug resistant-TB. With an eye on some of the biggest breakthroughs, Bavesh Kana, looks at other developments made on the prevention and treatment front. And finally, Nazir Ismail debunks the myth that the disease only affects the lungs.

You can also read a selection of best read articles on the topic that we’ve published previously.

Ina Skosana

Health + Medicine Editor

Top Stories

New research holds promise of a shorter treatment course for people with drugresistant- TB. Daniel Irungu/EPA

Drug-resistant TB: a new study offers new hope

Andrew Nunn, UCL; I.D. Rusen, University of Toronto

New research shows that the treatment of drug resistant-TB can be reduced from the current duration of 20 to 24 months to less than a year.

TB, which is caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium Tuberculosis, is a leading cause of death. Kateryna Kon/Shutterstock

Major battles have been won against TB. But the war isn’t over

Bavesh Kana, University of the Witwatersrand

In Southern Africa, high rates of HIV infection have been the primary driver of TB

X-rays, CT scans or MRIs may be necessary to detect TB in organs other than the lungs. Shutterstock

TB doesn’t only attack the lungs – other organs are also vulnerable

Nazir Ismail, National Institute for Communicable Diseases

TB outside the lungs accounted for 14% of TB cases recorded globally in 2017.

Best reads

How we used computers to figure out drugs that can beat drug-resistant TB

Ruben Cloete, University of the Western Cape

Using a large number of computers to screen TB drugs reduces the cost and time.

The remarkable story of hope: how attitudes to drug-resistant TB changed

Eric Goemaere, University of Cape Town

Treatment for drug-resistant TB remains problematic as the painful daily injectable patients receive for at least six months leaves more than 60% deaf.

We’ve come up with a TB test that’s cheaper, quicker and more accurate

Bavesh Kana, University of the Witwatersrand

The current range of TB diagnostic tests have various limitations like the sputum smear which is outdated, clumsy and takes long to process.

Nanomedicine could revolutionise the way we treat TB. Here’s how

Sarah D'Souza, University of the Western Cape; Admire Dube, University of the Western Cape

The reason that nanoparticles hold such hope for TB treatment is that they can be carefully targeted.


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