Sciensano & Tuberculosis

Last updated on 10-12-2018 by Aurélie Felice

Sciensano contributes to the fight against tuberculosis: 

  • by ensuring rapid diagnosis of the disease
  • by monitoring the resistance of bacteria to antibiotics 
  • by detecting epidemics
  • by developing new vaccines and new, more effective treatments.

Sciensano hosts the National Reference Center for the diagnosis of tuberculosis and human mycobacterioses.

Finally, the Vaccine and Blood Product Quality Department is the Belgian Official Medicines Control Laboratory (OMCL), which is responsible for the quality control of the tuberculosis vaccines before they can be placed on the European market. 

Sciensano is well placed to contribute to the fight against tuberculosis:

National Reference Center Mycobacterium (humans)

In Belgium, Sciensano hosts the National Reference Center for the diagnosis of tuberculosis and human mycobacterioses. Every year, more than 3,000 samples/cultures are analysed in its laboratories.
In addition to identifying species, the National Reference Center is responsible for analyzing the resistance of the bacterial strains responsible for tuberculosis and mycobacterioses to the available antibiotics. 
As part of the surveillance of tuberculosis in Belgium, the National Reference Center also carries out research on gene mutations conferring resistance to antibiotics and on the genotyping of strains of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, in order to detect possible outbreaks.

National Reference Laboratory bovine tuberculosis (animals)

Sciensano also hosts the National Reference laboratorium for bovine tuberculosis. This laboratory carries out analyses in case of suspicions flagged by the front-line laboratories. We have a collection of field strains collected in Belgium, which are very useful for epidemiological investigations. We also bring our expertise to bear on the development of new diagnostic methods and the improvement of surveillance programs.

In vivo models

Sciensano’s Immune Response division, in collaboration with various international laboratories (TBVI), is conducting research to better understand the immune system’s response to infection, and to design new vaccines or more effective vaccines.

Antibiotherapy and Resistance

Sciensano contributes to research on the mechanisms developed by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis to resist the action of antibiotics. 
This better understanding of the resistance mechanisms makes it possible to develop new, more effective drugs. 
In addition, thanks to its infrastructure, Sciensano can perform a series of tests to evaluate the activity and effectiveness of new molecules that can eliminate TB infection.

Control of vaccines for tuberculosis

Sciensano is the Belgian Official Medicines Control Laboratory (OMCL) and is responsible for the quality control of the tuberculosis vaccines before they can be placed on the European market. This control is carried out by the OMCL, independently of the vaccine manufacturer and for each batch separately. This control consists on the one hand of a critical review of the production data and quality analyses carried out by the vaccine manufacturer and on the other hand of additional analyses carried out by an OMCL. Thus, the Vaccine and Blood Product Quality Department performs various laboratory analyses according to the European Official Control Authority Batch Release (OCABR) guidelines. In addition, the Department also checks whether the production and quality data of the vaccine manufacturer are in conformity with the specifications as approved and recorded in the registration dossier. If a batch complies with all the quality criteria, the Department issues a certificate to the manufacturer, the so-called EU batch release certificate, and the vaccine may enter the European market.


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