The University of Pittsburgh Center for Vaccine Research received an $11.4 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation for tuberculosis research. The Grant will allow researchers to examine how to shorten and simplify TB treatment by utilizing new imaging technologies.

Currently the difficulty with TB lies within the ability of germs that cause the infection to hide from the immune system in small tissue nodules, which enables the infection to reactivate years later. Current treatment requires patients to adhere to treatment long after symptoms have faded, which proves difficult for patients in many parts of the world, according to JoAnne Flynn, MD, PhD, principal investigator of the grant and professor of microbiology and molecular genetics at the university.

The multimillion dollar grant will be utilized to develop positron emission tomography (PET) and computed tomography (CT) imaging in studies in nonhuman primates. Researchers will combine three imaging technologies (radionuclides, fluorescence, and mass spectrometry) to develop imaging probes and techniques to locate TB associated bacteria.

“By applying the tools of modern medicine to TB, we hope to lay the groundwork for real-time measurements of TB drug efficacy in clinical trials and develop new targeted therapies that will considerably shorten the length of treatment,” says Flynn.