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NII to host global symposium on extra-pulmonary tuberculosis

Mycobacterium tuberculosis

Multi-drug resistant strains of Mycobacterium tuberculosis have been a major challenge for doctors

New Delhi:  The Department of Biotechnology’s autonomous institute, the National Institute of Immunology (NII) along with International Centre for Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology (ICGEB), New Delhi is organizing a specialized symposia on extra-pulmonary tuberculosis from February 11 to 15.

During the meeting, discussion and deliberation will be held on thematic areas like phenotypic heterogeneity and persistence, mycobacterial lifestyle, metabolism, and signalling in the host microenvironment, host immunity, alternate niches of mycobacteria, systems biology of mycobacterial pathogenesis, drug resistance in tuberculosis, and extra-pulmonary TB.

Tuberculosis (TB) continues to be a major global health problem. India accounts for 27% of the world’s TB burden. Over past few years, the country has experienced some slowdown in pulmonary TB cases. However, the number of extra-pulmonary cases is on the increase. This has added to the overall burden of the TB in India and has become a cause of alarm. At present, no definitive diagnostics are available for detecting extra-pulmonary TB, and the available treatments regimes are of long durations.

Extra-pulmonary TB patients are given broad-spectrum and mycobacterial-specific antibiotics primarily meant for pulmonary TB but for longer durations of 12-24 month. Long duration treatment regimes affect patient compliance. According to multiple clinical reports, such treatment regimes have resulted in the prevalence of multi-drug resistant (MDR) and extensively drug-resistant (XDR) strains of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. In line with this, India contributes to 25% of the global MDR-TB burden.

Among other things, there are concerns that long treatments could create drug-resistant gene reservoir in the intestinal microbiome of extra-pulmonary TB patients. Some studies have shown a close link between persistent gut microbial alterations (dysbiosis), immune system and TB treatment.

The ensuing symposium will also address the global emerging threat associated with phenotypic and genotypic diversity of pathogen M. tuberculosis and its consequences on disease development, host-response and drug resistance. The host-pathogen cross-talk or interaction is a key factor responsible for M. tuberculosis infections.

During the past two decades, pulmonary TB has been studied in-depth and several important characteristic features of M. tuberculosis replication, intracellular survival, lipid and carbon metabolism, granuloma and dormancy pathogenesis and its drug resistance has been explained thoroughly. Such studied have generated a huge knowledge base, which can be explored to address the problems that span other cell types and tissues.

The 5-day meet will bring together investigators, clinicians and students, and post-docs from all over the world. It is expected to provide impetus to undertake research programs providing momentum towards accelerated clinical outcomes.

The European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) and India Alliance will provide travel grant to a limited number of participants. The EMBO also offers grants to offset additional child care costs incurred by participants or speakers. Applicants should indicate on the registration form if they wish to be considered for a travel grant or child care grant.

Dr. Bilqeesa Bhat, Project Scientist

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