06:41pm Thursday 28 May 2020

UK and Indian researchers unite to fight global tuberculosis epidemic

Combining the complementary strengths of both institutions in this area, the research will take a novel approach in studying the biology of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium that causes TB, with the aim of developing new treatments and diagnostics. 

TB remains at epidemic levels worldwide and rates are especially high in the Indian subcontinent despite recent advances in the understanding of the biology of the causative agent.  Until recently, techniques used to combat TB largely remained the same as those used in the last century including the vaccine, choice of therapeutic drugs and diagnosis methods.

The researchers plan to address four key areas of TB biology, where there has been limited previous research, to gain a greater understanding of the disease.  These include:

·         Understanding the interplay between the central metabolism of the TB bacterium and cell wall composition

·         Deciphering how the ‘packaging’ of the DNA of the TB bacillus by special proteins affects the expression of its genes

·         Developing new technologies to study how the bacterium senses its environment

·         Evaluation of a diagnostic tool based on spectroscopic detection of a lipid biomarker

Dr Apoorva Bhatt, Lecturer in Molecular Microbiology, at the University of Birmingham, said:

“The funding provides an excellent opportunity to ‘jump start’ collaborative research on a disease of global significance that taps into the research strengths of each institution.”

The project is funded by the UK-India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI) as part of the Innovation Partnerships strand.  This initiative aims to provide opportunities for UK and Indian universities and institutions to collaborate on thematic partnerships to enhance the innovation capacity of both India and the UK.  It promotes partnerships between higher education institutions which focus on innovation and new areas of development in research, in areas relevant to both countries.

Earlier this year, the University of Birmingham signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bangalore as a result of developing academic engagement between both institutions.


Notes to Editors:

· The University of Birmingham was established in 1900 and was the UK’s first civic university where students from all religions and backgrounds were accepted on an equal basis.  A founding member of the Russell Group, it is one of the United Kingdom’s internationally acclaimed research–intensive universities.  The University’s work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers and teachers and more than 4,000 international students from nearly 150 different countries. 

·The University of Birmingham’s engagement with India spans over 100 years.  The first Indian students came to Birmingham in 1909 to study degrees in Mining and Commerce and there are now more than 1000 Indian alumni.  The University currently has over 180 students from India studying a wide range of subjects – at all levels from foundation to doctoral research.

·The University’s India Office opened in New Delhi in 2009.  This was the first overseas office of the University of Birmingham and has been established to maintain partnerships with local providers, support the alumni in India, further consolidate research collaborations and provide local services to those students who wish to study at the University.

For further information please visit: www.birmingham.ac.uk

For further information on  the UK-India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI), please visit:  www.ukieri.org

For media enquiries, please contact Catherine Byerley, International Press and PR Officer, University of Birmingham, Tel: +44 (0) 121 414 8254 or +44 (0) 7827 832 312,
Email: [email protected]

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