The Experimental Tuberculosis Unit (UTE) is an IGTP research group associated to the Microbiology Department of the Germans Trias i Pujol University Hospital (HUGTIP) and the Genetics and Microbiology Department of the Autonomous University of Barcelona. The group is led by Dr Cris Vilaplana, and is accredited by AGAUR (2021 SGR 00920). The mission of the group is to improve the life of TB patients by achieving faster and better diagnosis, better clinical management, better treatments and better disease outcomes. Its vision is to have a great impact in the fight against TB while also being competitive at an international level.

Keywords: Tuberculosis, microbiology, infectious diseases, clinical studies, clinical trials, prognosis, therapeutics, experimental models, immunology, lung surgery, drug development, vaccine development, health-related quality of life.

Experimental Tuberculosis Unit (UTE)

Group leader

Research lines

Study of biomarkers and tools for monitoring TB disease course and prognosis

The lack of a validated correlator of protection as well as biomarkers to monitor the disease course or prognosis is still one of the main impairements on improving the clinical management of TB. The group aims to identify and validate biomarkers able to monitor treatment response and to predict TB disease course and outcomes (prognosis). The team also aims to develop and evaluate tools and strategies to improve the clinical management of patients and their quality of life. The final aim of this strategic objective is to be able to stratify patients during clinical management. The group is leading several cohort studies which have allowed them to build a large unique collection of samples (lung tissue, blood and urine) to perform these studies.

Evaluation of new prophylactic and therapeutic strategies against TB

The UTE has more than 15 years of expertise in the evaluation of new prophylactic and therapeutic strategies against TB, both in experimental models (in vivo, in vitro and in silico) and in clinical trials and studies. Because of this experience, the UTE has become an international reference to evaluate new drug and vaccine candidates and has been included in several international consortia (funded by the EC and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation). The group has also been contracted by several research sites and biotech & pharma companies. Depending on the final aim of the contractor, the unit has a wide portfolio of experimental animal models and services, as well as expertise to lead and coordinate randomised clinical trials in the context of tuberculosis research. For this research line, their link to the Microbiology Dept. of the Germans Trias i Pujol University Hospital and the access to the unique Centre for Comparative Medicine and Bioimage of Catalonia (CMCiB) facility are key.

Study of health dimensions and quality of life in the context of infectious diseases

As TB is a disease linked to socio-economic factors and vulnerable populations, and with the belief that there are several dimensions of health (physical, social, emotional, environmental, etc.) and changes in one affect the others, the group aims not only to study TB as a disease, but also to understand the individual with TB. Within this research line, the team studies the impact of TB on the health dimensions and quality of life of TB patients in the context of all their clinical studies and trials. They also conduct community outreach activities to increase TB awareness and decrease TB diagnostic delay in which patients and public are involved, especially in socio-economic deprived areas and among vulnerable populations.

Active projects

SMA-TB: A novel Stratified Medicine Algorithm to predict treatment responses to host-directed therapy in TB Patients. (H2020-SC1-BHC-2018-2020)

PI: Cristina Vilaplana
Funding agency: European Commission
Agency code: GA 847762
Duration: 2020 - 2024
More information

Towards a better understanding and control of tuberculosis

PI: Pere-Joan Cardona
Funding agency: Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red Enfermedades Respiratorias (CIBERES)
Agency code: CIBERESTB2325
Duration: 2023 - 2025

New Research and Innovation on Tuberculosis: Prevention, Diagnosis and Treatment

PI: Pere-Joan Cardona
Funding agency: Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red Enfermedades Respiratorias (CIBERES)
Agency code: CB06/06/0031
Start date: 2016

Unitat de Tuberculosi Experimental

PI: Cristina Vilaplana
Funding agency: Agencia de Gestió d'Ajuts Universitaris de Recerca (AGAUR)
Agency code: 2021 SGR 00920
Duration: 2022 - 2024

ITHEMYC: Novel immunotherapies for tuberculosis and other mycobacterial diseases

PI: Pere-Joan Cardona
Funding agency: European Commission
Agency code: proposal nº 101080462-2
Duration: 2023 - 2026

Ajuts Margarita Salas Modalitat de 2 anys

PI: Cristina Vilaplana
Funding agency: Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
Agency code: 720452
Duration: 2022 - 2024

Past projects

Búsqueda de biomarcadores pronósticos para personalizar el tratamiento de la tuberculosis

PI: Cristina Vilaplana
Funding agency: Instituto de Salud Carlos III
Agency code: PI20/01424
Duration: 2021 - 2023

Estudio de las bases biológicas de la susceptibilidad a la tuberculosis según el sexo. Importancia del eje hipotalámico-pituitarioadrenal

PI: Pere-Joan Cardona
Funding agency: Instituto de Salud Carlos III
Agency code: PI20/01431
Duration: 2021 - 2023

EpiPose: Epidemic intelligence to minimize COVID-19's public health, societal and economical impact

PI: Cristina Vilaplana
Funding agency: H2020 - European Commission
Agency code: 101003688
Duration: 2020 - 2023

In Silico Trial for Tuberculosis Vaccine Development (STRITUVAD)

Co-PI: Pere-Joan Cardona
Funding agency: H2020-SC1-2017-CNECT-2 - European Commission
Agency code: 777123
Duration: 2018 - 2022

Programme for the progressive substitution of laboratory animals in the Center for Comparative Medicine (IGTP) (CMCiB-3R)

PI: Pere-Joan Cardona
Funding agency: La Caixa
Agency code: LCF/PR/GN17/50300003
Duration: 2018 - 2022

Scientific publications

Highlighted publications

Prats C, Vilaplana C, Valls J, Marzo E, Cardona PJ, López D. Local Inflammation, Dissemination and Coalescence of Lesions Are Key for the Progression toward Active Tuberculosis: The Bubble Model. Front Microbiol. 2016 Feb 2;7:33. DOI: 10.3389/fmicb.2016.00033. PMID: 26870005; PMCID: PMC4736263.

Arias L, Cardona P, Català M, Campo-Pérez V, Prats C, Vilaplana C, Julián E, Cardona PJ. Cording Mycobacterium tuberculosis Bacilli Have a Key Role in the Progression towards Active Tuberculosis, Which is Stopped by Previous Immune Response. Microorganisms. 2020 Feb 8;8(2):228. DOI: 10.3390/microorganisms8020228. PMID: 32046344; PMCID: PMC7074780.

Melkie ST, Arias L, Farroni C, Jankovic Makek M, Goletti D, Vilaplana C. The role of antibodies in tuberculosis diagnosis, prophylaxis and therapy: a review from the ESGMYC study group. Eur Respir Rev. 2022 Mar 9;31(163):210218. DOI: 10.1183/16000617.0218-2021. PMID: 35264411; PMCID: PMC9489037.


Additional information

Collaborative networks

  • CIBERES (ISCIII). Group CB06/06/0031
  • COST Action CA21164 (financed by European Commission’s Horizon Europe). More information
  • TBnet. More information
  • VALIDATE. More information
  • CTVD (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation). More information
  • Study Group on Mycobacterial Infections (ESGMYC) of the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases

Doctoral theses

Title: Avaluació d'eines per a un maneig assistencial més personalitzat, integral i eficaç per a les persones amb tuberculosi (Evaluation of tools for a more personalized, comprehensive, and effective care management for individuals with tuberculosis)
Author: Arantxa Romero Tamarit
University: Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), Genetics and Microbiology Dept.
Date of defense: 11/12/2023


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