World TB Day Highlights Global Efforts and Challenges to Stopping Tuberculosis
A March 24, 2010 press release from Johns Hopkins details a research team that screened hundreds of thousands of small chemical compounds, and identified a class of compounds that - at least in a test tube - blocks tuberculosis growth. The scientists screened 175,000 small chemical compounds and identified a potent class of compounds that selectively slows down this protein’s activity. This news story was promising and came on World Tuberculosis Day so my trail lead me to report on statistics and milestones in the fight against TB.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message for World Tuberculosis Day cites progress shown in the decline in deaths from TB, but cautions "progress should never distract us from the challenges. The numbers are still staggering. Last year, TB claimed 1.8 million lives, making it the second biggest infectious killer of adults worldwide." Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton urged everyone to "reaffirm our commitment to tackle this deadly disease together." in video taped remarks.
It is estimated that one third of the global population is infected with the bacteria which has resulted in an epidemic for people living with HIV. Someone who is HIV-positive and infected with TB bacilli is many times more likely to become sick with TB than someone infected with TB bacilli who is HIV-negative. TB is a leading cause of death among people who are HIV-positive.
The World Health Organization estimates that the largest number of new TB cases in 2008 occurred in the South-East Asia Region, which accounted for 34% of incident cases globally. However, the estimated incidence rate in sub-Saharan Africa is nearly twice that of the South-East Asia Region with over 350 cases per 100 000 population.
An estimated 1.3 million people died from TB in 2008. The highest number of deaths was in the South-East Asia Region, while the highest mortality per capita was in the Africa Region.
In the United States there were 644 deaths from TB in 2006, the most recent year for which these data are available from the CDC. Compared to 1996 data, when 1,202 deaths from TB occurred, this represents a 46% decrease in TB deaths in the last decade within the U.S.
To bring this post full circle here is the video from Dr. Jun Liu of Johns Hopkins giving a description of protein formation. Read the Full Johns Hopkins Team Finds New Way to Attack TB story.
Jun Liu describes the job of the enzyme methionine aminopeptidase.
Tuberculosis Information Links On the Web:
Stop TB Partnership
Tuberculosis Global Map From John's Hopkins University
Global Health Map
CDC's Tuberculosis Info: http://www.cdc.gov/tb/