Pioneering research by University of Pretoria and University of Leicester revolutionises early detection of TB

Researchers at the Universities of Pretoria (UP) and Leicester are revolutionising the way tuberculosis (TB) is detected through the invention and application of a 3D-printed insert added to simple face-masks. This new approach has the potential to detect millions of currently missed infections across the world.

Professor Anton Stoltz

March 4, 2020

  • Professor Anton Carel Stoltz (In Memoriam)
Professor Anton Carel Stoltz was one of South Africa's top infectious disease experts. He started his career as a biochemist and researcher. In 1983 he completed his honours degree in biochemistry with research into the physical properties of IgM molecules. His master’s degree in biochemistry focused on malaria. He then went on to study medicine and while doing his MMed (Internal Medicine) he was selected to go to Belgium as a researcher to pioneer a new field in tuberculosis (TB), working in the world-class laboratories of Professor Johan Grooten at Ghent University and Patric De Baetselier at the University of Brussels. The function of mycolic acids in the cell wall of mycobacterium TB was at that stage unknown. He was asked to start a new field in lipid biochemistry and look at immunological properties of these long chain fatty acids. After two years, he published a paper on the innate immunity of mycolic acids. Papers that followed were on the use of biosensors to detect anti-mycolic acid antibodies and its use in a novel assay for tuberculosis.

This was the start of a career in which he dedicated himself unconditionally and with single-minded dedication to relieving the burden of infectious diseases. In 2010 he became the head of the Division of Infectious Diseases at UP, after Health Professions Council of South Africa-registration as a subspecialist in infectious diseases. He was an internist and infectious diseases subspecialist with interests in the management of patients with multi-drug resistant and extensive drug-resistant TB co-infected with HIV; and diseases originating from Africa, including severe malaria, schistosomiasis and drug resistant infections in intensive-care units. His research interests were in the field of infectious diseases, including resistant tuberculosis using novel nano-particle medicine, resistant tuberculosis transmission/aerobiology and novel prevention of infection, HIV infections and the heart plus HIV and CMV co-infections, malaria pheromones and malaria drug reformulations.

He was the ultimate overachiever – he worked with various intensive-care units at the referral academic hospital; initiated an Infection Prevention and Control unit as well as antibiotic stewardship from several Centers for Disease Control grants. These projects were used as a platform to teach healthcare workers, students and hospital managers the correct management of infectious diseases and infection control practices. He was also a consultant to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and to UP’s TB research programmes, focusing on nano-particle medicine and novel diagnostics in TB. He was involved in a major breakthrough in collaborative research with the University of Leicester in revolutionising the way TB is detected, through the invention and application of a 3D-printed insert added to simple face masks. This new approach has the potential to detect millions of currently missed infections across the world.

Since February 2020 he had dedicated his time to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, despite facing personal setbacks in his own health. He yet again proved his dedication to bettering the lives of others, and will forever be remembered for his clinical excellence, his dedication to research, his unfaltering leadership and his unwavering love for his children and wife.

We mourn the loss of this talented hero, who devoted his life to saving the lives of others.
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