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Gates Foundation offers grants to annihilate tuberculosis

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to invest $280 million (201.9 million EUR) in the program fighting against tuberculosis, a disease that has been mostly eliminated in the United States but still kills nearly 2 million people in the world each year.

The 11 grants focus on developing vaccines, diagnostic tests and treatments. Last year, the foundation pledged to support a global coalition of 400 organizations working to eliminate TB and save millions of lives with at least $900 million (649 million EUR) in donations by 2015.

Including $300 million (216.34 million EUR) in grants announced previously, the foundation has already fulfilled more than half its commitment. Other organizations and governments also have announced plans to spend more money to fight the disease.

Dr. Marcos Espinal, executive secretary of the Stop TB Partnership, said he was encouraged to see new dollars going to support the group's action plan, which he called detailed and achievable.

The bulk of the new Gates Foundation money - $200 million (144.23 million EUR) over five years - will go to the Aeras Global TB Vaccine Foundation to conduct clinical trials of six TB vaccine candidates.

Another $62 million (44.7 million EUR) over five years was pledged to the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics to pay for TB tests that are more accurate and simpler to use. The organization estimates that improved testing could help save at least 400,000 lives a year.

Nine grants totaling $18 million (12.98 million EUR) are aimed at identifying new TB treatments to combat drug resistance.

"TB science has advanced significantly over the past five years, and these grants build on this momentum," said Dr. Tachi Yamada, president of the foundation's Global Health Program.

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