MUSC researcher awarded $9.9 million for tuberculosis treatment and prevention – About Your Online Magazine


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IMAGE: Computer generated 3D image of a cluster of Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria resistant to stick-shaped drugs, the pathogen responsible for causing tuberculosis. Image courtesy of CDC.
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Credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Susan Dorman, MD, infectious physician at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), was recently awarded a $ 9.9 million 10-year contract by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct tests for the Health Testing Consortium. Tuberculosis (TBTC). TBTC is a collaboration of researchers whose goal is to improve the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of tuberculosis (TB) worldwide. Dorman, who has dedicated his career to the study of the disease, serves as a medical TB consultant for the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control and leads research efforts to improve TB treatment and prevention.

“In the United States, we think of tuberculosis as a disease of the past and we have good tuberculosis control in this country,” explained Dorman. “However, in many other parts of the world, it is still a contemporary health problem that impacts people’s lives in terms of morbidity and mortality.”

According to the World Health Organization, tuberculosis is one of the top 10 causes of death in low-income countries. That’s why Dorman has a long-term collaboration with a research team at the Lung Institute at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, where tuberculosis is very common. For one of the TBTC projects, she will partner with the Cape Town team to test TB treatment interventions in an area where people are severely affected by the disease.

TBTC leaders will define the research agenda for funded researchers and ensure that it is relevant both globally and in the USA. In this country, social disparities in healthcare are factors that contribute to TB infection and transmission. People living in poverty and in crowded environments are at increased risk of TB transmission. Lack of access to adequate nutrition can increase susceptibility to disease and health costs can negatively affect treatment outcomes. TBTC’s future work will attempt to address strategies to better manage tuberculosis and latent tuberculosis in underserved populations in the USA.

Although tuberculosis is curable, Dorman said, it is a challenging course of treatment that can involve six months of antibiotics, with more than one antibiotic being administered at the same time. Treatment can be difficult for patients to complete and can lead to side effects. A component of this funded work would be to shorten the duration of treatment to improve the likelihood that patients will complete it.

Another obstacle to effective disease management is latent tuberculosis infection. The bacteria that causes tuberculosis can live inside people for years without causing any signs or symptoms. Later in life, they can ‘wake up’ and cause illness, so it is important that we have effective tools to prevent TB. The treatment of latent TB, as well as that of active disease, involves an intense course of antibiotics that does not favor patient compliance, especially in people who feel healthy.

The consortium will focus on improving the prevention of TB infection in individuals with latent TB. Ultimately, the efforts of Dorman and his team can greatly improve TB treatment and prevention and change clinical guidelines for TB treatment.

Dorman is driven by his passion for preventing and treating tuberculosis.

“I am really motivated to try to help do a better job of preventing people from getting tuberculosis and, if they do, doing a better job of treating them so that they survive.”

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About MUSC

Founded in 1824 in Charleston, MUSC is the oldest medical school in the South, as well as the only integrated academic center for health sciences with the sole responsibility of serving the state through education, research and patient care. Each year, MUSC educates and trains more than 3,000 students and nearly 800 residents in six colleges: Dentistry, Postgraduate Studies, Health Professions, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy. The state’s leader in obtaining funds for biomedical research, in fiscal 2019, MUSC set a new record, raising more than $ 284 million. For information on academic programs, visit musc.edu.

As the medical health system at the Medical University of South Carolina, MUSC Health is dedicated to providing the highest quality patient care available, while training generations of competent and compassionate health professionals to serve the people of South Carolina and beyond . Comprised of approximately 1,600 beds, over 100 extension sites, MUSC College of Medicine, the doctors’ practice plan and approximately 325 telehealth locations, MUSC Health owns and operates eight hospitals located in Charleston, Chester, Florence, Lancaster and Marion. In 2020, for the sixth consecutive year, the U.S. News & World Report named MUSC Health the # 1 hospital in South Carolina. To learn more about clinical patient services, visit muschealth.org.

MUSC and its affiliates have collective annual budgets of $ 3.2 billion. The more than 17,000 members of the MUSC team include professors, doctors, specialist suppliers and world-class scientists who offer innovative education, research, technology and patient care.

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Paula Fonseca