Press Releases 2023

Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB): Clinical trial starts in South Africa

Antibiotic resistance is increasingly complicating the treatment of tuberculosis. Cultur-based procedures to identify antibiotic resistance are costly and lengthy. Usually, several months elapse between the diagnosis of tuberculosis and the receipt of an antibiogram. New methods of studying the genetic material of tuberculosis bacteria allow rapid and comprehensive information about changes (mutations) in the genetic material of tuberculosis bacteria associated with antibiotic resistance. These molecular predictions of antibiotic resistance using targeted sequencing technologies (t-NGS) are officially recommended by the WHO since summer 2023 for predictions of antibiotic resistance and the composition of therapeutic regimens. The Research Center Borstel is significantly involved in this process and the preparation of the WHO recommendations.

Whether the treatment outcomes of affected patients with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) can actually be improved by using the new technologies is plausible, but has never yet been proven in a clinical trial. In the summer of 2023, the Research Center Borstel entered into a strategic partnership with the University of Cape Town, South Africa, to jointly address these and other questions.

Together with Prof. Dr. Keertan Dheda from the University of Cape Town, clinical scientists from the Research Center Borstel are investigating the impact of tNGS technology on the treatment outcomes of patients with MDR-TB in a clinical trial in South Africa. They are supported by a €30,000 research grant from the Schleswig-Holstein Society for the Control of Tuberculosis and Lung Diseases e.V.

"Molecular predictions of antibiotic resistance can significantly contribute to ensuring that all patients receive effective therapy. Results of this study could be groundbreaking for the implementation of this procedure in high-incidence countries of tuberculosis," explains Professor Christoph Lange, Medical Director at the Research Center Borstel and a participating scientist in the project.


Prof. Dr. med. Dr. h.c. Christoph Lange 
Medizinischer Direktor, Forschungszentrum Borstel, Leibniz Lungenzentrum 
Professor für Respiratory Medicine & International Health, Universität zu Lübeck
Parkallee 35, 23845 Borstel
T +49 4537 188 3321/0
F +49 4537 188 6030
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