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Tuberculosis

ITM’s research on tuberculosis (TB) is world-renowned. Its shorter combination treatment for resistant tuberculosis was a worldwide breakthrough. Our researchers study new diagnostics and case detection techniques, with the largest public collection of TB strains in the world at their disposal.

World's deadliest infectious disease

Tuberculosis (TB) is caused by the M. tuberculosis bacterium, which mainly affects the lungs. When an infected person coughs, sneezes or spits, TB bacteria can be transmitted to others through the air. With around 1.5 million deaths a year, TB is the world’s deadliest infectious disease. More than 95% of TB cases and deaths occur in developing countries. People with a compromised immune system, e.g. people affected by HIV, diabetes or malnutrition, have a 20 to 30% higher chance of developing the disease. Increased resistance against current medication is a huge problem in the fight against TB.

ITM has been conducting a wide variety of tuberculosis-related trials. These include, among others, determining whether a disposable tube device can increase the testability and bacteriologic yield among those at risk for underdiagnosis, assessing the accuracy and cost-effectiveness of computer aided detection of tuberculosis on chest radiographs, and comparing the safety and efficacy of new treatment regimens against drug-resistant tuberculosis.

Units

Labs

  • WHO TB Supranational Reference Laboratory - Coordinating Center

  • BCCM/ITM Mycobacteria Collection

Discover our laboratories
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Impact Story

Administrator of the world’s largest collection of TB strains

In 2013, the World Health Organization (WHO) gave ITM the responsibility of watching over the largest collection of tuberculosis bacteria in the world.

Research themes

  • antimicrobial-resistance-amr
    Bacteria have found various ways to develop resistance (AMR), of which resistance to antibiotics is a problem reaching across many different domains.
  • tsetse-fly
    Tireless effort is crucial to eliminate human African trypanosomiasis, also known as sleeping sickness, in the world. For more than a century, ITM has been playing its part.
  • mosquito-on-human-skin-arboviruses
    Arboviruses such as dengue, chikungunya and Zika are urgent public health threats in tropical and subtropical areas.
  • malaria-mosquito-net
    By combining efforts on biological, human and societal aspects of the disease, ITM hopes to control and ultimately eliminate malaria in the long term.
  • paulin-madingi-analyses-sample-of-sleeping-sickness-ntd-itm
    Neglected (tropical) diseases are high on the agenda. For many years, ITM has been actively involved in research on NTDs, in particular on leishmaniasis, leprosy and sleeping sickness.
  • vaccination-ctc
    Before vaccines or drugs can be used in the general population, their safety and effectiveness are thoroughly investigated in clinical trials.
  • hiv-test-positive-itm-clinics
    The research of ITM on the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and AIDS is of inestimable value.
  • larval-sampling-MEMO
    For more than 10 years, ITM has been actively monitoring exotic mosquitoes in Belgium.
  • microscope-monkeypox
    ITM is closely monitoring the development of the mpox disease, both in Belgium and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
  • women-participating-in-pregact-trial-nazoanga-burkina-faso-sexual-and-reproductive-health-itm
    We help improve sexual and reproductive health in the world by combining scientific research, advanced education, policy support and capacity-strengthening initiatives.
  • plant-in-soil-ecohealth
    EcoHealth is an interdepartmental group that unites researchers from different backgrounds and disciplines. We all recognise the need for comprehensive, systemic approaches to address current health challenges that emerge at the interface between humans, animals and their broader natural, social and political environments.
  • blood-sample-sti-hiv-tests-policlinic-itm
    Since the beginning, ITM has been providing medical services to people returning ill from overseas. As such, ITM accumulated profound knowledge of tropical diseases, as well as STIs and HIV.
  • nazoanga-marche-antibiotics-study
    The right to health implies that everybody, everywhere should have access to the needed essential health products, included but not limited to diagnostics, vaccines and medicines.
  • sampling-research-ethics-itm
    Clinical, epidemiological and diagnostics studies, secondary analyses of health data and BioSamples, behavioural studies or any other studies that involve the participation of human individuals, should yield social value and be scientifically justified and ethically sound.
  • outbreak-guinea-ebola
    In a highly interconnected world, ITM continues to innovate and develop its outbreak research capacity.
  • covid-19-itm-envelope-1
    ITM has decades of experience fighting infectious diseases and curbing epidemics. We are fully committed to helping stop the COVID-19 pandemic that is threatening the world. To this end, we work together with partners at home and abroad.
  • said-centre-de-traitement-ebola
    Ebola is a deadly disease that was co-discovered in 1976 by researchers of the institute. ITM has been closely monitoring subsequent outbreaks on the African continent, as well as contributing to new developments in diagnostics and treatment.