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miRNA as therapeutics and biomarkers for mycobacterial diseases

Project Member(s): Saunders, B., Myers, G., Padula, M.

Funding or Partner Organisation: National Health & Medical Research Council (NHMRC - Ideas Grants)
National Health & Medical Research Council (NHMRC - Ideas Grants)

Start year: 2024

Summary: Infections with Mycobacterium tuberculosis caused over 10 million new tuberculosis (TB) cases in 2022 and led to 1.6 million deaths, predominantly in the developing world. In Australia, infections with non tuberculous mycobacteria (NTM), are 10 times more common than TB. NTMs encompass over 200 strains, with M. avium the most common. Standard anti-TB therapy is 4 drugs for 6 months, with 90% cure rates. Standard NTM therapy requires 3 antibiotics for 18 months but NTM cure rates are less than 50% and 5-year survival of NTM patients is 4 times lower than for matched controls. Compounding the problem of treatment and cure of all mycobacterial infections, is a lack of biomarkers, to both aid diagnosis of disease, and importantly, monitor response to therapy, to readily identify non responders (individuals with drug resistance, poor drug absorption, or non compliance). This project will utilise exciting international collaborations and unique patient samples to tackle these two important issues. It will develop and test new drugs to treat TB and NTM disease and test new biomarkers for their prognostic and diagnostic value. This project will: 1. Test newly identified drug compounds for protective effects in controlling TB or NTM disease in our mouse models to identify targets with in vivo activity. 2. Measure the diagnostic efficacy of blood based biomarkers to identify TB disease and predict response to therapy. This proposal brings together skilled scientists and clinicians to address these complex problem. It will identify new drugs for therapeutic testing and determine if biomarker panels can aid identification of mycobacterial disease and treatment response. If successful it could lead to new clinical trials and could be a major breakthrough to reduce the burden of TB disease.

FOR Codes: Infectious diseases, Cellular immunology, Respiratory diseases , Microbiology, Treatment of human diseases and conditions, Diagnosis of human diseases and conditions