Researchers devise TB barcode

A recent study conducted by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine examined genetic mutations of the bacteria that causes tuberculosis to devise a better way of identifying different types of it.

Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium that is responsible for TB, evolved over time into different into families of strains that affect humans differently. The researchers studied more than 90,000 genetic mutations and discovered that only 62 mutations are needed to code the global family of strains.

The results of the study were published in a recent issue of Nature Communications.

"We are making this information available to the doctors and scientists working with tuberculosis so that they can more easily know what strains they are dealing with," Taane Clark, a reader in genetic epidemiology and statistical genomics at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine who led the study, said.

TB is a bacterial infection that often develops in the lungs but can spread to any part of the body. There are currently more than 12 million TB patients globally and approximately 9,000 new cases in the United Kingdom every year, according to the World Health Organization.

Approximately 1.3 million people die every year around the world from TB.