New research on how tuberculosis (TB) bacteria develop multi-drug tolerance points to ways TB infections might be cured more quickly. The study was published online last week in Cell. The results identify both a mechanism and a potential therapy for drug tolerance that is induced in the TB bacteria by the host cells they infect. Currently, TB treatment requires a complex, long-term curative regimen of at least six months. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and the University of Washington described the existence of multi-drug tolerant bacteria that form within days of infection in zebrafish, an animal model for studying TB. However, they were surprised to see this bacterial population actively growing and reproducing inside of host macrophages, white blood cells that engulf germs and debris in the body. In fact, the drug-tolerant bacteria not only thrive within these disease-fighting clean-up cells, but also co-opt them to carry the transiently drug resistant TB infection to other parts of the body. Paul Edelstein, MD, director of the Clinical Microbiology Laboratory in Penn's Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, is a co-author on the paper and contributed studies of in vitro and in vivo antimycobacterial activity.
For more, please read the University of Washington release.
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