Infectious diseases

At a glance

Studying diagnostic and prognostic markers in TB meningitis

Lead researcher

Dr Tariq A. Ganief and Dr Karl Burgess


University of Cape Town, South Africa and University of Edinburgh, UK



Amount awarded


Last updated



Dr Tariq A. Genief from the University of Cape Town and Dr Karl Bugess from the University of Edinburgh will collaborate on a research project investigating the diagnostic and prognostic markers in TB meningitis.

Dr Tariq A  Ganief Dr Tariq A. Ganief

Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) infection remains a global health concern, with South Africa bearing one of the highest disease burdens. While most Mtb infection manifests in the lungs, a significant portion of infections occur in the central nervous system causing TB meningitis (TBM). TBM is one of the most severe forms of TB, with mortality rates approaching 50 per cent in children and infants.

Unfortunately, current state-of-the-art TBM diagnosis (Xpert MT/RIF) only identifies up to 60 per cent of cases, with missed diagnoses having potentially devastating long-term effects on patients. Many patients respond to treatment poorly and suffer long-term neurological impairment despite clearing the infection. This may be due to unknown differences in the progression of the infection or patients’ response to the infection.

Dr Karl Burgess Dr Karl Burgess

During treatment, increased cranial pressure is relieved by draining excess fluid which may contain metabolites and proteins that can be used as a signature of disease progression. Dr Ganief and Dr Burgess will analyse a set of TBM samples to identify molecules that can be used to guide diagnoses and effective treatment strategies. Using the findings of this research, they also intend to develop critical local expertise to facilitate similar research in other disease areas.

This project has been funded by the 2020 Dorothy Temple Cross International Collaboration Grant.

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