To mark World TB Day, March 24, 2015, the International Journal of Infectious Diseases is publishing a Special Issue that will help raise awareness about the burden of tuberculosis and present a collection of articles by some of the world's most noted researchers and clinicians. The articles present recent successes and future challenges in the quest to eliminate TB from the planet.
March 24th is the day in 1882 when Professor Robert Koch announced his discovery of the cause of TB, Mycobacterium tuberculosis. One hundred and thirty-three years later, despite an effective cure available for the past half century, TB continues to plague humankind and remains one of the most common causes of death from an infectious disease worldwide, with more than 1.5 million people dying from TB each year.
"Over the past three decades, HIV/AIDS has attracted enormous investment in developing new drugs and decentralized models of care to turn the tide. Malaria has also mobilized huge financial resources with the distribution of cheap and effective impregnated bed nets, but investments into TB have sadly lagged behind!" commented Chief Guest Editors of the issue, Professor Alimuddin Zumla, GCDS, FRCP, FRCPath PhD, FSB, University College London, and NIHR BRC at University College Hospital, London, United Kingdom, and Professor Eskild Petersen, MD, DMSc, DTM&H, MBA, Aarhus University and Arhuas University Hospital, Skejby, Aarhus, Denmark.
Professors Zumla and Petersen have assembled a comprehensive survey of the current state of TB research and treatment. Articles cover the latest developments in vaccines and treatments. Epidemiological studies of regions as large as sub-Saharan Africa and populations as small as prison inmates are presented. As TB itself is evolving into more ominous drug-resistant varieties, several reports address Multi-Drug-Resistant TB (MDR-TB) and Extensively Drug- Resistant TB (XDR-TB), responsible for an estimated 480,000 new cases in 2013 alone.
A vaccine for preventing TB in children has been long available, but it has proven to be of limited effectiveness in older children and adults. Several contributions discuss new vaccines in various stages of clinical trials, recombinant and booster vaccines, repurposed drugs, and cellular therapies using the patient's own bone marrow. Immunotherapies and some of the complications from such therapies are also covered.
Even surgery can be used as a treatment, particularly for damaged lungs due to MDR-TB and XDR-TB strains. Other articles concentrate on diagnostic techniques as keys to preventing epidemics such as Computed Tomography (CT), Positron Emission Tomography (PET) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans, while recognizing that in much of the world, these modalities might be unavailable.
Zumla and Petersen hope that this year's World TB Day will continue to inspire action. "WHO estimates that there are three million men, women, and children globally with active TB who are currently being missed by health services. Most of these three million people live in the world's poorest countries and include the most vulnerable members of the community. To reach the three million we need to aggressively scale up political, funder, and governmental commitment to ensure universal access to TB care for all. In 2014, the World Health Assembly endorsed the 'Global Strategy and Targets for Tuberculosis Prevention, Care, and Control after 2015,' which aims to eliminate TB as a public health threat by 2035. An ambitious target that can be achieved if TB is made a priority by governments and donors, and backed up with increased investment and bold new public health approaches."
Fiona Macnab, Executive Publisher at Elsevier, along with Professor Peterson, Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Infectious Diseases, are pleased to be publishing such a significant contribution to the world's scientific literature devoted to TB on World TB Day 2015.
The issue is publicly available at www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/12019712/32. The issue is also featured as part of a multi-journal virtual special issue published by Elsevier to commemorate World TB Day 2015, which is located at www.elsevier.com/health-sciences/virtual-special-issue-for-world-tb-day-2015.