Centenary-led TB research centre knuckles down to work

Professor Warwick Britton

Professor Warwick Britton

  • Should TB patients be quarantined in hospital or treated at home?
  • What are the legal and ethical implications?
  • How can the newest TB drugs best be managed to avoid triggering resistance in TB bacteria?
  • What are the most effective ways of using the latest genomic techniques and information to combat TB?

These are just some of the questions that are becoming ever more critical as extensively drug-resistant (XDR) TB looms on Australia’s horizon—it’s already in Papua New Guinea. They are also examples of the issues to be discussed on Thursday 2 May and Friday 3 May at the first symposium of the new NHMRC-funded Centre of Research Excellence in Tuberculosis Control, located at the Centenary Institute.

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Simple cough could save lives from TB

A community-wide screening program being trialled in Vietnam aims to create a new model for global TB control

In the 1950s and 1960s Australians were accustomed to having regular chest x-rays in a caravan, parked in their suburb, to screen for TB. During this time TB almost (but not quite) disappeared from Australia and the program was phased out.

Centre of Research Excellence on TB Control

Centre of Research Excellence on TB Control: (Back left) Dr James Wood; Professor Warwick Britton; Associate Professor Ben Marais; Associate Professor Jamie Triccas; Dr Carl Feng. (Front left) Professor Guy Marks; Professor Lyn Gilbert; Dr Gabriella Scandurra.

Now Australian researchers from the Centenary Institute, Woolcock Institute of Medical Research and the Centre of Research Excellence on TB Control will assess the potential for a similar program of regular community-wide screening to have the same impact on TB in Vietnam, a country in which TB is still very common and costs many lives. However, instead of x-rays the team will use a new molecular test that is performed on sputum coughed up from patient’s lungs to detect TB.

They hope their work will serve as a model for countries with a high burden of TB in our region and elsewhere.

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Tuberculosis – Keeping Up With A Real Killer

Tuberculosis Research

Centenary's Tuberculosis Research Group is the largest in Australasia.

TB is second only to HIV/AIDS as the greatest killer worldwide due to a single infectious agent.

In 2011, about 8.7 million people worldwide fell ill with tuberculosis and 1.4 million died.

Multi-drug resistant TB is present in almost all countries surveyed, and about nine per cent of multi-drug resistant cases are extensively drug resistant—sensitive to very few available medicines and treatments.

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Cardiology, TB, ageing and immunology

Centenary wins support for research thrust


The latest NHMRC funding will help Centenary's ground-breaking research, such as in the T-Cell Biology lab, headed by Professor Barbara Fazekas de St Groth.

Centenary scientists have won over $5 million in the latest NHMRC grant round – with seven research grants and three early career fellowships.

The development of a TB vaccine, the genetic regulation of ageing, the fundamental workings of the immune system, the genetic basis of heart disease—these are some of the research areas of key interest to Centenary Institute for which the Australian Government has announced funding through the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

Centenary also boasts three new NHMRC Early-Career Fellows along with seven significant research projects in the medical research funding released on Friday.

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Snooping on the interplay of molecules

Centenary’s Cytometry, Imaging and IT Manager, Dr Adrian Smith

What can you discover with the latest Leica ground state depletion super-resolution microscope at between 40 and 60 millionths of a millimetre? Structures inside cells right down to the level of large molecules, such as proteins.

Given that much of the work of Centenary researchers is involved with studying protein interactions, there is already a lively queue forming to use the new Leica microscope, the first in the Southern Hemisphere. It has been acquired in collaboration with Sydney University’s Faculty of Science, the Sydney Medical School, the School of Medical Sciences, Bosch Institute, the Australian Centre for Microscopy and Microanalysis (ACMM) and Leica Microsystems itself. Continue reading

La vie en rose

PhD Scholar Caitlin Gillis

Congratulations to one of our research assistants, Caitlin Gillis, who is off to Paris on a full scholarship to undertake a PhD at the Pasteur Institute.

Caitlin is one of only nine students selected from around the world for the highly competitive Pasteur – Paris University International Doctoral Program.

“Science is such an international discipline, especially at the Centenary Institute: there are people from all over the world working here,” Caitlin says. Continue reading

Containment of multi-drug resistant TB in the Pacific is critical.

Professor Warwick Britton, Head of the Mycobacterial Group

Professor Warwick Britton, Head of the Mycobacterial Group at Centenary and a Professor of Medicine at the University of Sydney, has been awarded $2.49 million towards a Centre of Research Excellence on tuberculosis control: from discovery to public health practice and policy – a collaborative program with colleagues from the University of Sydney, Woolcock Institute for Medical Research, University of Melbourne, Vietnam and Indonesia.

The grant adds to Centenary’s investment and effort in containing the spread of TB, still one of the world’s most devastating infectious diseases
and a growing threat to Australia. Drug resistant strains of tuberculosis are prevalent in Papua New Guinea, our closest neighbour.

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Centenary Australia and Vietnam fight TB together

Centenary Scientist Dr Greg Fox in Vietnam

Centenary Scientist Dr Greg Fox in Vietnam

This week, Centenary is helping Vietnamese medical researchers to plan their next move against tuberculosis, a disease that once was Australia’s top killer and still kills 54,000 people each year in Vietnam.

Vietnam’s National Tuberculosis Program deputy head Nguyen Viet Nhung and his delegation are inspecting Centenary Institute’s new PC3 lab, meeting Australian colleagues who also work on TB visiting our research partners at the Woolcock Institute, and sharing research progress and strengthening ties.

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Why I Run: Anna Lawrence Chair of the YCF

Anna Lawrence

Anna Lawrence, Chair of the Young Centenary Foundation

Last year I ran the City2Surf for the first time. Well… I ran/walked it.

I was determined to run the entire way and started a training regime but after a back injury and general laziness my training kind of…fell to the wayside.

On the day of the City2Surf I decided just to see what I could do and not beat myself up if I didn’t run the entire way – I actually did an alright job and walked only up that infamous heartbreak hill and, you know, when I just really needed a break.

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March 24 is World TB Day

TBTB used to be Australia’s top killer. In much of the rest of the world it still is, killing three people every minute.

Saturday 24 March 2012 marks 130 years since the discovery of the cause of tuberculosis (TB), a disease that kills more than one million people worldwide every year.

In 1882, TB was the leading cause of death in Australia – twenty times more deadly than the road toll is today and equivalent to the current annual death rate from all cancers.

Discovering the cause enabled Australia and other developed countries to push back successfully against TB with massive public health, screening and vaccine programs.
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