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King's & Tuberculosis


King’s College London has a long history with Tuberculosis (TB) research. From alumni developing one of the most widely used diagnostic tools to leading the field in research on co-infection of TB & Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). King’s is supporting World TB Day 2018 and its theme of creating leaders for a TB-free world.

The UK & TB

TB is one of the largest causes of death worldwide although it is preventable and curable in most cases. Although many people believe the disease has long been eradicated, this is not the case. Since the mid-80’s, the UK experienced a rise in cases and only in the last few years have the rate started to fall alongside the global trend. The number of cases in 2016 were 5,664 and 39% of these were in London.

TB is spread through bacterial infection and only a small number of those infected will fall ill. Although infected patients have a small risk of becoming sick, those with compromised immunity, such as those with HIV, have a much higher risk of becoming sick. According to the World Health Organisation people with HIV are 20 to 30 times more likely to develop TB and without proper treatment, nearly all this group will die.

King’s people & TB research

After qualifying at St Thomas’, King’s alumnus Frederick Heaf (1894-1973) worked at a specialist TB establishment and then was appointed as the medical officer in charge of the anti-TB service for London. Later, in his career, Heaf created and validated a diagnostic tool to determine if a child had been exposed to TB previously or required further immunization. This test, a simple skin prick procedure, was used until 2005 when is was discontinued and replaced by the Mantoux test.

In 2018, there are several research groups at King’s studying co-morbidity of TB and HIV. One researcher is Frank Post, a newly-promoted Professor and clinical HIV physician from the School of Immunology & Microbial Sciences. Dr Post’s work on TB and HIV is internationally collaborative and focused in Eastern Europe where there are high levels of multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB).

His group has observed the treatment of patients with MDR-TB infections and the challenges of the clinical management they face in different parts of the world. Their studies have shown that patients in eastern Europe with HIV & TB have a higher risk of death compared to other parts of the world such as western Europe and Latin America. Following this, recommendations were made to improve the treatment these patients receive.

The theme for World TB Day 2018 is: “Wanted: Leaders for a TB-free world” with the goal of building a promise to end TB at all levels. King’s has a long history of TB research and continues to be dedicated to making the world a better place through its 2029 Vision.

In celebration of his recent promotion to Professor, Frank Post is giving an Inaugural Lecture on 25 April 2018 at Lecture Theatre 1, New Hunt's House, Guy’s Campus, SE1 1UL. His talk is titled: ‘Kidney Disease in the setting of HIV: Bugs, Drugs and Genetic Predispositions’ for more information visit here.