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Tuberculosis China

The diversity of Mycobacterium tuberculosis strains in China: tracing the origins of the worldwide dispersion of the multidrug-resistant Beijing genotype
EC contribution
: € 150.000
: 24 months
Starting date
: 01/12/2005
Funding scheme
: Specific Support Action
: China, tuberculosis, epidemiology, MLVA, genotyping, BCG, Beijing-family
Contract/Grant agreement number
: 012166
Project web-site
: -


In China a large fraction of the population is infected by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacteria responsible for tuberculosis (TB), with 500.000 new cases every year. An important proportion of strains is resistant to multiple drugs used to treat this disease. The attenuated Mycobacterium bovis Bacillus Calmette Guerin (BCG) is the only available vaccine against TB. However this vaccine does not provide consistent protection against TB. Knowledge of the diversity of the M tuberculosis strains is of major importance to identify M. tuberculosis antigens and epitopes for new protective vaccines and specific diagnostic reagents.

Previous work as well as our unpublished study on Chinese M. tuberculosis strains showed that the Beijing genotype is prevalent in China. Strains of a similar genotype are found worldwide (particularly in Eastern Europe and in the countries of the former Soviet Union) and are often associated with multidrug-resistance. The very rapid and efficient dispersion of the Beijing strains suggest that they may have developed selective advantages.

We are organizing a survey of M. tuberculosis genetic diversity in China which necessitates the analysis of a large collection of strains (6000) from the 31 Provinces. The data is compared to the characteristics of strains collected in other countries. Our goal is to characterize the dominant bacterial populations in China and to find whether the dispersion of the Beijing type is of clonal origin.

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