Seattle BioMed receives tuberculosis research grant

Seattle BioMed announced on Thursday that it was awarded a $16.6 million grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for tuberculosis research.

The grant, titled "Omics of TB Disease Progression," will be given over a five-year period and support efforts to study TB from latent infection to disease. Most of the research will focus on finding which carriers become actively ill with TB.

"Research in TB has never been more critical, and this collaboration represents an important change in how disease research is done, making a move from a 'trial and error' approach to predictive modeling," Alan Aderem, president of Seattle BioMed, said. "By drawing on our collective expertise, and by taking advantage of the predictive power of systems biology, we can tackle the problem of TB in an entirely new way, potentially elucidating new drug targets or informing vaccine development."

The transition TB takes from a latent infection to an active disease is complex, and many times, confusing. There are numerous interactions between the various bacterium that cause the disease in the human immune system. Being able to look at how TB makes this transition will help researchers better understand who TB may infect and why it infects them.

"With this project, we hope to identify genes in both humans and bugs that work together to cause disease," David Sherman, the Co-PI of the program and Co-PI of the Pathogen Project, said. "It will give us the first comprehensive picture of how TB, a notoriously elusive pathogen, progresses to disease."