Diagnosing Tuberculosis in West Africa to inform immediate drug choice and save lives (MRC IAA)

Diagnosing Tuberculosis in West Africa to inform immediate drug choice and save lives (MRC IAA)

Funder: MRC IAA University of Surrey

Amount: £7500.00

Project Period: July 2022 – January 2023

Collaborating institutions

University of Surrey, UK


Overview of project: Tuberculosis (TB) has recently been called the forgotten pandemic, with over 1.5 million deaths per year. Much of this burden is in West Africa, which has an unusual mix of mycobacterial species causing TB of differing susceptibility to the drugs used for frontline treatment. Mycobacterial strains causing TB are referred to as members of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTBC) and include M. tuberculosis, M. africanum and M. bovis. Different MTBC require different treatments.  For example, M. bovis is intrinsically resistant to the front-line drug pyrazinamide. However, due to the length of time taken for diagnostic techniques and capacity to rapidly diagnose TB species, it’s prescribed in drug combinations instead of more appropriate alternatives. This is against WHO recommendations and we hypothesise is a major reason for the high rate of TB treatment failure in Ghana and West Africa in general. To address this, we have developed a rapid species-resolution diagnostic test to inform drug selection. We have already tested this successfully on over 300 retrospective anonymised DNA samples from patients with active TB in Ghana. In collaboration with our industrial partner VIDIIA, we have adapted this PCR-based test into a quantifiable rapid fluorescence assay, which would allow this test to be used in the field and in low-resource settings in Ghana and West Africa in general. This interim proposal aims to test these previously speciated samples on site in Ghana, with our industrial collaborator VIDIIA.

Project impact:

Diagnosing circulating strains in one of the most diverse TB-speciated regions using a simple and rapid diagnostic PCR to aid anti-TB drug choice, reduce treatment relapse and development of AMR and increase survival rates for TB patients in Ghana.

Group Leader

Dr Augustina Angelina Sylverken
Phone: +233 244 214625
E-Mail: annan@kccr.de

Co- Principal Investigator:

Dr Micheal Owusu
Phone: +233 24 340 9558
E-Mail: owusu@kccr.de


Prof. Christian Drosten


Dr. Philip El-Duah

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