UCL-TB is a broad and cross-disciplinary TB research network that spans University College London and our partners across the world. Our mission is to research the prevention, treatment and cure of TB in communities with, and at risk of, the disease. Our membership includes 26 full professors, 74 doctors and over 100 other researchers. We serve on advisory, policy and managerial boards within the Department of Health, Public Health England, WHO, NICE, Wellcome Trust, Medical Research Council, National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), British Thoracic Society, British HIV Association, and other organisations.
UCL-TB academics and clinicians have interests in areas that include basic and translational research, clinical trials, health services research, epidemiology and policy analysis, and teaching and training. In the last five years, we have published over 400 TB-related papers in highly-ranked peer review journals. In 2016, we had a total research grant income of over £30million.
Basic and translational science
Our successful work in identifying host markers that protect people against TB, and also predict its onset, has been funded by the Wellcome Trust and the EDCTP. This has led to the introduction of novel management strategies including the use of host-directed therapies. Other research programmes focus on molecular mycobacterial diagnostics (including predictors of drug resistance) and new drug therapies.
The Medical Research Council Clinical Trials Unit at UCL (MRC CTU at UCL) runs world-leading TB research studies. Recent and ongoing work includes major TB treatment shortening trials (such as REMox, RIFAQUIN and the first of its kind in Multi-Drug Resistant TB, STREAM, which has recently reported encouraging preliminary results). The PanACEA MAMS study is the first phase III trial using a multi-arm multistage design in TB. UCL-TB works with the TB Global Alliance, MSF, the EU, US National Institutes of Health and other international partners on cutting edge studies based in high and low TB burden settings. Examples include work in Africa (STAND and PRACTECAL). In Brazil and South Africa, the UCL Institute for Global Health with MRC funding is undertaking trials to improve prevention and decrease loss to follow up (TBTVacc and CCCT trial). Within the UK, we recently completed a pilot trial using new drugs to treat latent TB infection (HALT study) and plan a full trial with NIHR support.
Clinical & Health services research
We have established and lead clinical research networks across Southern England for both TB and the increasing problem of Non-tuberculosous Mycobacteria (NTM). We build on our close relationship with the Academic Health Science Centre, UCLPartners, who have identified TB as a major issue for the people living within the local geographical footprint. Internationally, with support from the European Union, we undertake research in Africa and Europe. Examples include the E-DETECT TB project in Europe.
We work with marginalised populations such as the homeless and prisoners in the UK to improve health and social care management of latent and active TB, as well other associated conditions such as Hepatitis B, C and HIV. This is supported by the NIHR (TB-REACH) and the Department of Health. We recently completed the NIHR-funded programme investigating latent TB infection (PREDiCT-TB), next generation latent TB tests and detection of active and latent TB in emergency departments (ACE study). The success of studies using novel methods of treatment monitoring and outcome evaluation have led to rapid adoption within national guidance and their implementation by TB services. Examples of these include Video Observed Therapy and Cohort Review of patients on treatment for TB.
Our long-standing links with Public Health England enable us to undertake patient-relevant, population-based research. This has directly fed into UK health policy; and we had a key role in developing the current National TB Strategy for England. This has been associated with a fall in the number of cases being reported across the country.
TB community engagement
UCL-TB, in partnership with The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, runs Europe’s leading World TB Day Symposium. This free event, open to all, highlights contemporary research innovation and future challenges.