SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2016

Scientists discover new method to fight tuberculosis

Scientists at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey announced on Tuesday that they have discovered a drug that cripples tuberculosis.

Their study, which was published online by Nature Chemical Biology, detailed how a new TB drug battles the bacteria by dissolving TB's protective fatty coating. TB needs this fatty coating around its cells in order for its survival, making the dissolving of these fats a death sentence for the disease.

The scientists, once they had studied the meshwork of long fatty acids that make up TB's protective cell wall, took a new approach to fight the disease. They screened for agents that trigger expression of a bacterial gene.

They discovered thiophenes able to kill TB in cultures. They then combined this thiophene with the existing drug isoniazid, which destroys the fatty acids around TB.

The scientists now hope to discover new ways to tweak these compounds and make them more potent and less toxic.

Tuberculosis is a common infectious disease that is caused by various strains of mycobacteria. Tuberculosis usually attacks the lungs, however, it also known to attack other parts of the body. TB is spread by coughing and sneezing and is considered highly contagious.

Tuberculosis, which has been on the rise in the U.S. and other countries, is one of the world's leading causes of death. In 2010, almost 9 million cases of TB were reported worldwide.