2019 Swiss TB Award

Every year since 2002, the Swiss Foundation for Tuberculosis Research awards the CHF 10'000 Swiss TB Award for outstanding work by Swiss researchers. This year's winners are Ms Kathrin Zürcher and Ms Marie Ballif from the ISPM in Berne with their recently published important work in the Lancet Journal on the importance of a corrective testing of tuberculosis pathogens for drug resistance to treatment outcomes. This has a decisive influence on their survival, especially in multi-resistant (MDR) tuberculosis or extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis.

The study, which was published just on the World TB Day 2019 in Lancet Infect Dis, resulted from a large collaborative project between the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine (ISPM) of the University of Bern, the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute in Basel and the Institute of Medical Microbiology (Swiss National Center for Mycobacteria) in Zurich.

This project was funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation and the US National Institutes of Health. The overarching aim was to compile a Mycobacterium tuberculosis strain collection from HIV co-infected and HIV negative individuals in eight low- and middle-income countries worldwide, and to study the mechanisms underlying M. tuberculosis drug resistance. We reported on the challenges to diagnose and treat drug-resistant TB in resource-limited settings. Inaccurate drug susceptibility tests (DST) leading to inappropriate treatment contributes to the high mortality associated with drug-resistant TB. Local access to accurate and rapid DST of anti-TB drugs is required to improve outcomes in patients with drug-resistant TB.

Drug susceptibility testing and mortality in patients treated for tuberculosis in high-burden countries: a multi-centre cohort study

Kathrin Zürcher , Marie Ballif, Lukas Fenner, Sonia Borrell, Peter M. Keller, Joachim Gnokoro, Olivier Marcy, Marcel Yotebieng, Lameck Diero, E. Jane Carter, Sebastien Gagneux, Erik C. Böttger and Matthias Egger, on behalf of the International Epidemiology Databases to Evaluate AIDS consortium Lancet Infect Dis 2019; 19:298-307