Challenging the status quo: recent and ongoing research in the diagnosis and infectiousness of tuberculosis

Media 19 Mar 2023

Grant Theron
Professor, DSI-NRF Centre of Excellence for Biomedical Tuberculosis Research, SA-MRC  Centre for Tuberculosis Research, Division of Molecular Biology and Human Genetics, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa
Thursday 16th February 2023, 12.30–13.30pm GMT
Online or Wolfson Building Room 8, LSTM

Speaker: Grant is interested in practical and translatable solutions to any problem to do with tuberculosis (TB, the single biggest infectious cause of death worldwide). He heads the CLIME group (Clinical Mycobacteriology and Epidemiology), comprised of over 50 members at Stellenbosch University. His team recruits people at risk of TB across four clinics and three hospitals in Cape Town into studies seeking to improve the diagnosis of TB and drug-resistance, as well as enhance our understanding of TB’s infectiousness, transmission, and the role of the microbiome in TB. Grant has held Wellcome and EDCTP fellowships and his work has attracted multiple forms of international recognition, including internationally competitive prizes and funding. Grant supervises several post-doctoral trainees, PhD fellows, and MSc students, many of whom have led their own impactful publications and acquired awards.

Topic: Grant will present recent and ongoing diagnostics research from his group and a study on the infectiousness of TB patients. This overview will include the use of novel triage and confirmatory testing strategies in PLHIV prior to syndromic pre-selection, how Xpert MTB/RIF Ultra can be used to accurately rescue a diagnosis from a contaminated culture, and the emergence of bedaquiline resistance in programmatically-treated patients. Grant will also summarise a recent study on the determinants of infectiousness in patients with drug-susceptible and drug-resistant TB, the ongoing PreFIT study, which is evaluating the first-to-market host-transcriptomic signature TB assay (Xpert MTB/HR) for incident TB, and the ongoing CAGE-TB study, which is optimising and validating semi-automated cough audio-based screening to improve patient triage.