According to Dr Soumya Swaminathan, the India TB Research Consortium brings together diverse stakeholders to develop new tools – diagnostics, vaccines and drugs – to enable India to take a leadership role in fast-tracking translational TB research
The India Tuberculosis Research Consortium (ITRC), formed by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Delhi recently convened its second International Scientific Advisory Group (ISAG) meeting.
Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Secretary, Department of Health Research, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and Director General, ICMR said, “India’s National Health Policy recognises the key role that research plays in the development of a nation’s health. The India TB Research Consortium brings together diverse stakeholders to develop new tools – diagnostics, vaccines and drugs – to enable India to take a leadership role in fast-tracking translational TB research and find solutions for the world.”
Speaking on the occasion, Dr Barry R Bloom, Distinguished Service Professor, Harvard University and Chair, ISAG, said, “TB is now the largest single cause of death in the world from an infectious disease. India has the highest number of TB cases in the world. It is widely recognised that the field needs new tools to make a greater impact on this disease, including more sensitive diagnosis, preventive vaccines and new drugs to treat MDR-TB. Hence the Government of India has made a significant commitment to support research to prevent and control the disease in India.”
India’s National Strategic Plan 2017 for TB elimination aims to achieve and maintain a cure rate of >85% in new sputum positive patients for TB and reduce incidence of new cases, to reach elimination status by the year 2025. Towards this end, along with strengthening the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP), the Government of India has set up ITRC to address India’s TB Challenge through research, innovation and partnerships. ITRC has adopted an interdisciplinary collaborative approach by harnessing national and international expertise to advance technology as well as product development by delivering effective diagnostics, shorter drug regimens, efficacious vaccines along with newer interventions for TB control and subsequent elimination of the disease.
The Consortium is being supported by the Government of India as well as partner agencies and philanthropy to ensure that adequate resources in terms of both technical and financial support are available. Since its inception in August 2016, ITRC has made considerable progress in terms of taking forward its mandate across its thematic areas.