In celebration of World TB Day (March 24th), the Canadian Lung Association salutes our researchers who are helping to fight tuberculosis (TB)
The theme for World TB Day 2015 is “Reach, Treat, Cure Everyone” to draw attention to the estimated 3 million people worldwide with TB that are not treated and cured.
In Canada, we are fortunate to have many world-class TB researchers who are looking at new ways to treat and cure TB.
Looking for new drugs to treat TB
Dr. Yossef Av-Gay is a research scientist with the Immunity and Infection Research Centre at the Vancouver Coastal Research Institute and professor of Infectious Disease at UBC. He’s looking for new drugs to treat TB.
With grant funding from The British Columbia Lung Association, Dr. Av-Gay is working to uncover information critical to the development of new and better drugs to treat tuberculosis (TB).
Until recently, TB was considered to be a minor and decreasing problem in industrialized countries, like Canada.
The decline of TB in industrialized countries has recently undergone a reversal, with multi-drug resistant strains of the disease emerging and becoming more difficult to cure. This re-emergence has brought mycobacterial research, an area of study neglected over the past 20 years, to the forefront of microbiological research.
Searching for new ways to treat “superbugs”
Thanks to a research grant from the British Columbia Lung Association, Dr. Charles Thompson is studying how bacteria become immune to antibiotics, which is a growing concern in treating bacterial infections, particularly TB.
Traditional methods of finding new antibiotics are becoming less effective as new antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria develop. This can be caused by the evolution of bacteria but is most commonly due to patients not taking the full course of medication.
Stronger drugs need to be developed to treat “superbugs”. Dr. Thompson is head of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology and a co-director of the Life Sciences Institute at the University of British Columbia. His research focuses on identifying genes within harmful bacteria that allow it to become “immune” to antibiotics.
About World TB Day
World TB Day is designed to build public awareness that TB today remains an epidemic in much of the world, causing the deaths of nearly one-and-a-half million people each year, mostly in developing countries. Worldwide, more than 9 million people still develop active TB each, according to the Stop TB Partnership. The Canadian Lung Association is a member of the Stop TB Partnership.
World TB Day is held every year on March 24th to mark the discovery of the cause of the disease in 1882 by Dr. Robert Koch.
TB rates in Canada[i]
According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, there were 1,577 new active and re-treatment TB cases reported in 2010. This represents an unprecedented national low since collection of TB data began in Canada in 1924, however, there is a disproportionate amount of cases in Nunavut.
In 2010, 66% of all reported TB cases were among foreign-born individuals, 21% among Canadian-born Aboriginal people and 12% of cases were among Canadian-born non-Aboriginal people.
About the Canadian Lung Association
Established in 1900, The Lung Association is one of Canada’s oldest and most respected health charities, and the leading national organization for science-based information, research, education, support programs and advocacy on lung heath issues.
[i] Public Health Agency of Canada http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/tbpc-latb/pubs/tbcan10pre/index-eng.php