SUNDAY, JUNE 24, 2018

Researchers find key to tuberculosis resistance

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Researchers from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine recently discovered how tuberculosis (TB) uses a bacterial molecule to dictate the human body’s response to TB infections.

This new discovery could help researchers discover a better way to treat the illness.

TB bacteria choose a host and then unleash a molecule (c-di-AMP) into the person’s cells. The person’s cells have a system that begins an immune response when it detects foreign molecules, but the TB bacteria inhibits this response. As the TB bacteria multiplies and spreads throughout the body, c-di-AMP production levels increase.

"We unraveled part of the cat-and-mouse game that plays out when TB bacteria infect human cells,” Dr. William Bishai, co-author of the study and co-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Tuberculosis Research Laboratory, said. “The microbes release a small piece of DNA that resembles viral DNA, and this tricks the human cells to react as if they were responding to a virus instead of a bacterium; this may explain in part why the human immune response is often unable to combat TB. The exciting part is that with the knowledge of this molecular trickery, we may be able to come up with better drugs and vaccines for TB -- tools that are sorely needed."

More details can be found in the online publication of Nature Medicine.

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John Hopkins University

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