DNA fingerprint techniques have been developed to type Mycobacterium
tuberculosis isolates for studying the molecular epidemiology of
tuberculosis. The previous concerted action projects have promoted optimal
communication between EU partners, thus enabling standardisation of these
methods, and meaningful interpretation and comparison of results from
epidemiological studies in different areas. In this project, the plan is to
maintain the established network in Europe and to use the DNA fingerprint
database to trace transmission of (resistant) strains internationally, and to
study the natural history and control of tuberculosis. Furthermore, the
consortium aims to test the potential of novel genetic markers, derived from the
recently established genome sequence of M. tuberculosis, and to explore
the DNA chip and microarray technology to allow the use of multiple genetic
markers with different molecular clocks.
The treatment of a multidrug resistant tuberculosis case is not only very
costly, but also an enormous burden for the concerned patient because of the
long term treatment (often many years), the required compliance, the severe side
effects caused by the use of multiple drugs, and the containment required at the
infectious stage of the disease. Furthermore, treatment is not always
successful. Prevention is therefore of vital importance and the surveillance of
transmission of (resistant) strains is crucial.
One of the most important aims within this EU project is to establish an
international database of DNA fingerprints of multidrug resistant M.
tuberculosis isolates. This database will be linked to the EURO-TB
surveillance register to enable a meaningful interpretation of the results.
With this information, insight will be gained into the M. tuberculosis
strains and genotype families involved in transmission of tuberculosis and
outbreaks of this disease.
Dick van Soolingen
National Institute of Public Health and the Environment (RIVM)
P.O. BOX 1
3720 BA Bilthoven
Tel: +31 30 274 2363
Fax: +31 30 274 4418
Thirty-two institutes from 13 countries within Europe and five countries outside Europe are involved in the project.