Published On: 20 October 2021

Young children and HIV-positive individuals are at high risk of developing tuberculosis (TB) disease following exposure and infection to the Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M. tb) bacteria. In the absence of appropriate preventive therapy, M.tb-infected children under the age of five have a 50% risk of developing TB. More than 90% of children that are exposed to M.tb and who progress to disease, will do so within 12 months while the majority of the remainder will progress in the next 12 months.

On a global scale, approximately 1.2 million children contract TB every year, with an estimated 200,000 children needlessly dying from the disease. There is also an increase in drug-resistant TB (DR-TB) which is expensive to treat and frequently requires prolonged hospitalisation. Children are often left for months at a time in hospitals far away from their families.

Prevention of DR-TB in children is therefore of paramount importance. To this end, the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) identified the need for a preventive therapy trial for contacts of DR-TB in 1992. Since then, numerous international agencies have also recommended that such a trial should be a global health priority but none have been conducted to date, despite the global increase in DR-TB.

THINK is proudly participating in the TB-CHAMP paediatric trial assessing levofloxacin as a preventive therapy for DR-TB exposed children under the age of 18 years. On the 17th of November 2021 the first paediatric patients were screened for the trial since starting the process of applying for the trial almost a year ago.