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Division of Infection and Immunity

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Professor Sir Ali Zumla

Professor of Infectious Diseases and International Health

About

Professor Sir Ali Zumla is globally renowned for his leadership of health policy relevant research and for his outstanding and extensive outputs in infectious diseases, tropical medicine, with a focus on TB, HIV and respiratory diseases.

Research summary

Professor Sir Ali Zumla is globally renowned for his leadership of health policy relevant research and for his outstanding and extensive outputs in infectious diseases, tropical medicine, with a focus on TB, HIV and respiratory diseases.

Global/ International R&D

  • Clinical trials for evaluation of new diagnostics, drugs, treatment and prophylactics: Professor Zumla has created major international multi-country collaborations between academia, health care providers and industry for the conduct of multi-centre GLP/GCP clinical trials, the results of which have changed global practice. Seven of 11 randomised clinical trials have been completed. A phase 1 trial of autologous bone-marrow-derived stem cell transfusions for treatment of MDR-TB in Belarus in collaboration with Professor Maeurer of Karolinska Institutet (PI) has been completed. A phase II trial is underway.
  • Pathogenesis studies and epidemiological studies: Sentinel epidemiological and clinical studies have shown the emergence of extensively drug resistant TB. Several autopsy and molecular studies of adults and children are ongoing.
  • Research in to the epidemiology, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of killer respiratory infections ESO TB, TB/HIV and MERS-COV: Laboratory and translational clinical research on longitudinal cohorts of patients is leading to development and evaluation of rapid diagnostics (urine, sputum and blood based) and biomarkers for diagnosis, response to treatment, cure and relapse. Novel biomarkers of cytokine ratios, urine and filter paper based TB diagnostics tests have been developed and current work focusses on development of new and novel rapid TB diagnostic technology, in inpatient settings in paediatric and adult wards.

UK/ UCL based R&D

  • TB in London: Professor Zumla pioneered The London TB Link R&D Project at a time when TB was thought not to be a problem in London.
  • Development of rapid diagnostic tests for sepsis: Professor Zumla currently leads as PI several clinical translational TB projects including a 6 million euros EU-FW7 project on development of rapid diagnostic platforms for range respiratory tract pathogens linking industrial partners from France and Finland with hospitals in the UK and France.

Host-directed Therapies

The current status quo of the lengthy treatment duration and poor treatment outcomes associated with MDR/XDR-TB, and those with co-morbidity of TB with HIV and NCDs, in sub-Saharan Africa is unacceptable. New innovations for shortening duration of therapy, improving treatment outcomes, preventing relapse, reducing drug resistance, and preventing long term lung damage, are urgently required. The TB drug pipeline remains sparse. A broad of range of Host Directed Therapies (HDT) now provide hope for improving treatment outcomes and reducing duration of therapy. These require evaluation in randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials (RCTs) as adjuncts to current TB treatment regimens.

Selected publications