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About TB & SMA-TB project

Tuberculosis, known as TB, is a disease caused by TB bacteria that attack the lungs and it can persist throughout a person’s life or even kill them. The treatment is very long and its success depends on the particular strain of bacteria in that patient being treatable by the available drugs. Resistant strains (MDR-TB), not killed by the common drugs, are much more difficult to treat, which makes the treatment much longer and costly, more unpleasant for patients and a burden for health systems. Moreover, up to 50 % of TB patients can suffer of permanent lung damage which can impair their quality of life. These things mean that curing TB is a difficult problem for patients, healthcare workers and scientists.

Host-directed treatments (HDTs) are a new type of treatment that boost the patient’s defences and ability to fight off the disease rather than just killing the bacteria. Using HDT treatments together with the antibiotics would mean a shorter time taking medicine and better results for patients.

The patients who are worst affected suffer from runaway inflammation in their lungs and damage that can remain even after they are cured. Our hypothesis is that to include an HDT that reduces inflammation in the medicines the patients are already taking can help to reduce permanent lung damage and even the lenght of treatment.

Taking into account all these, the SMA-TB Project aims to do three things:

  1. To run a high-quality clinical trial in which patients being treated for TB are also given common anti-inflammatories, aspirin or ibuprofen, which reduce inflammation. It is hoped that this will show that the use of anti-inflammatory means a better health-related quality of life for TB patients and better management of their disease.

  2. To find what doctors need to look for to reliably predict how each patient’s disease will progress, who can be treated successfully by the standard treatment and who will need to complete the drug treatment with HDT. To do this the researchers will collect information from a large group of patients and analyse it using computers and mathematical models that are able to pick out patterns from huge amounts of information. This will enable them to identify what signs doctors must look for to make accurate predictions about TB patients, these are called biomarkers.

  3. To make a tool that doctors can use directly to test each new patient and be able to know if their treatment should be better complemented with HDT (what is called personalized treatment). To do this the researchers will use the biomarkers mentioned above and analyse them mathematically. The result will be a set of step by step guidelines for doctors to be able to use on each new patient to correctly identify how to make them feel better, what treatment will suit them best and how cure their TB as fast as possible.

Besides to achieve the scientific objectives set, SMA-TB project will:

  • Favour employment by promoting the incorporation of new talent in EU.

  • Favour education by contributing to the education of a new generation of scientists and other health care workers, administrative and other personnel, but also other people (general society).

  • Engage society and contributing to the advance and share of knowledge.

  • Identify any potential commercial products, methods or any other exploitable outputs and outcomes that might arise from this project and to exploit them during and or beyond the project if considered feasible.

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