The Indian Tuberculosis Research Consortium (ITRC) was formed by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in Delhi. In its meeting on October 31 and November 1, International Scientific Advisory Group (ISAG) comprises global experts in the areas of TB research and has been formed to advise the ITRC on developing and translating, research and development leads across four key thematic areas – diagnostics, vaccines, therapeutics and implementation research – taking into account the research leads in each area, available both nationally and internationally.
India’s National Strategic Plan 2017 for TB elimination aims to achieve and maintain a cure rate of >85 per cent in new sputum positive patients for TB and reduce incidence of new cases, to reach elimination status by the year 2025.
Towards t0his 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.
Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Secretary of Department of Health Research, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and Director General, ICMR said, “India’s National Health Policy recognizes 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.”
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.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr Barry R. Bloom, Professor at 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.”
ITRC is developing a protocol for prevention of disease study in healthy household contacts of TB patients with selected new vaccines in India – one of these vaccine candidates has been developed indigenously.