The focus of the TB Treatment Marker project was on investigating the possibility of creating a novel approach to monitor tuberculosis (TB) treatment efficacy, which would lead to a more rational use of drugs, and reduce the incidences of resistance to TB medication.
Since the war in the 1990s in Guinea Bissau, laboratory facilities for diagnosing TB have been inadequate. As part of the project, the consortium built a functional TB laboratory.
Of some 2 000 screened TB suspects, 400 diagnosed with active TB were included in the study by December 2006 and an 8-month treatment follow-up was carried out.
No method to successfully monitor the efficacy of TB treatment currently exists. Upon diagnosis, patients are treated for TB with a course of medication lasting approximately six to nine months. Prior to the end of the treatment regime, there exists very little indication of the efficacy of the particular treatment.
If the primary treatment fails, a stringent and time-consuming analysis is made to select appropriate and effective antibiotics as a second-line treatment.
Mortality is high in both TB suspects and in TB patients during treatment, and simple and inexpensive methods for identifying individuals at risk are warranted.
TB Treatment Marker aimed to determine whether the blood plasma protein suPAR (soluble urokinase Plasminogen Activator Receptor) is elevated in patients with active TB, and carries a prognostic value during the treatment period, as well as whether suPAR levels decrease in patients that respond to therapy.
An analysis of treatment efficacy and mortality in TB suspects and during the TB treatment programme were carried out at the end of 2007.
A simple laboratory analysis that can reduce mortality among TB negative TB suspects following rejection from the hospitals (due to the negative TB test) and among TB patients during treatment, as well as inform on TB treatment efficacy can have a major influence on the lifetime expectancy and quality of life of people in Guinea Bissau and in all areas of the world where TB and HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) cause despair and mortality.