Trachoma pathogenesis and scarring
Strengthen the understanding of trachoma and identify early markers for progressive disease
Trachoma is the leading infectious cause of blindness worldwide. Chlamydia trachomatis infection triggers a poorly understood inflammatory response, which leads to conjunctival scarring and blinding complications. It is unknown whether current control measures, including antibiotic treatment, will halt this process as scarring takes many years to develop. Currently trachoma control programmes rely on the implementation of the SAFE strategy. Unfortunately, due to our limited understanding of the pathogenesis of trachoma and its long natural history, it is currently unknown to what extent these strategies to control C. trachomatis infection will prevent or halt the development of blinding complications.
Aims and methods
This project supported the aims of VISION 2020 in several ways. Firstly, by strengthening understanding of the pathogenesis of blinding trachoma, which is necessary for the rational development of blindness prevention measures. Secondly, by developing and validating research tools to monitor progressive trachomatous scarring. Finally, these tools were used to investigate whether current and future interventions, such as mass antibiotic distribution, result in a reduction in factors associated with progressive scarring. The project followed people with conjunctival scarring for two years to measure their immunological and scarring responses to infection and other stimulants to identify biomarkers for progression. It examined the impact of mass antibiotic treatment on these biomarkers.
We gratefully acknowledge the funders of this research:
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Image credit: Examining children for active trachoma, Tanzania. ICEH/LSHTM