Enzyme may block TB

Iowa State University researchers are currently looking for an enzyme to inhibit a chemical that keeps the human immune system from killing the bacteria that causes tuberculosis.

In 2005, researchers from Iowa State, the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign and Cornell University teamed together to work on a clue that could lead to a better understanding of tuberculosis and the immune system, according to

According to Reuben Peters of the Iowa State team, Mycoibacterium tuberculosis is the bacteria that causes tuberculosis, and when the human body recognizes the foreign bacteria, it normally attempts to kill it inside the cell, but not always.

“We discovered something the bacteria makes, a chemical,” Peters said, according to

The chemical they found has been named lsotuberculosinol, and it is a natural product that aids in blocking cells sent by the human immune system.

“We kind of stumbled upon it,” Francis Mann, a recent graduate and doctoral student, said, according to

Peters said that they have since discovered how the bacteria makes lsotuberculosinol and what triggers its release.

“Now we have some clues [showing] how to block the production of isotuberculosinol,” Peters said, reports.

The research team is now looking to find a suitable inhibitor to allow macrophages to kill mycobacterium tuberculosis.

Peters said he hopes to put tags on the Isotuberculosinol chemical so that they can pull it out and see what it is attached to.

“We’re discovering not only how a pathogen manipulates our immune system ... we hope that it will tell us how the immune system works as well,” Peters said, according to