NIH awards grant to fight TB

The National Institutes of Health has awarded a $4 million grant to William R. Jacobs to develop a new strategy to fight tuberculosis.

Jacobs is a professor of microbiology, immunology and genetics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, reports.

Jacobs told that he hopes to delete every gene of the bacterium that causes TB - Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

Previous research has shown that certain MTB genes are vital for the survival of the bacterium, because they help it fight the effect of antibiotics, reports. By deleting the genes, Jacobs said his team will be able to observe how the organism is affected by the gene loss.

Jacobs said his team will use a new technique, called specialized transduction, that will create 4,500 special transducing phages, which will then be used to destroy all genes present in three different MTB strains.

“TB strains that resist some, most or even all current chemotherapies are becoming increasingly common,” Jacobs told “We hope that our systematic evaluation of the entire TB genome will reveal genetic vulnerabilities that we can target with new and more effective treatments and vaccines.”

TB is the world's most deadly bacterial infection. It is estimated that it kills approximately two million people every year.

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