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John Aitchison, CIDR president and co-investigator of the Tuberculosis program. (CIDR Photo)

Seattle’s Center for Infectious Disease Research announced Tuesday that it has received a new, $17.2 million grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to fund its research into tuberculosis, a persistent and deadly disease in many parts of the world.

While the research at CIDR will focus primarily on basic science that studies how the disease operates, that information will be key to developing new treatments and preventions for tuberculosis.

“To combat the global health crisis that is TB and deliver new diagnostics, drugs and a vaccine, we desperately need new approaches and new understanding of the disease,” John Aitchison, president of CIDR and co-investigator on the program, said in a press release. “Systems biology approaches enable big data generation, analysis and modeling that enable insights and prediction not possible any other way. This consortium will apply systems biology and predictive modeling to understand TB pathogenesis, and will lead to new methods for diagnoses, treatment and prevention.”

In 2016, 10.4 million people were diagnosed with TB and the disease was responsible for 1.7 million deaths, according to the Center for Disease Control. Not everyone who carries TB bacteria gets sick, though: About 25 percent of the world’s population is infected with the disease but doesn’t show symptoms, making it hard to stop the disease’s spread.

A recent increase in drug-resistant tuberculosis is also ushering in new research as scientists work to find new treatments to battle those strains. Researching drug-resistant TB is one of the focuses of CIDR’s work.

The announcement of the grant comes the same day as a new study from Bentley University, which found that the 210 medicines approved by the FDA between 2010 and 2016 all had ties to funding from the National Institutes of Health. In all, the government put $100 billion in funding towards scientific research that led to the new treatments.

“The research ultimately seeks to catalyze new, transformative interventions, such as diagnostics, drugs and vaccines,” CIDR said of its work.

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