Strategies to shorten tuberculosis treatment

Mycobacteria grown in standard culture media examined by scanning electron microscopy. Provided by Jeff Chen (VIDO-InterVac) and Eiko Kawamura (WCVM)

Project Team: Neeraj Dhar (PI), Kim Chiok (PDF), Shaun Wachter (PDF), Nuraina Dahlan (PDF), Shiming Lin, Neil Rawlyk

Members of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis-complex (e.g., M. bovisM. tuberculosis) cause tuberculosis (TB)—a highly infectious disease that primarily affects the lungs in a variety of mammals including humans. While TB is curable it requires treatment with multiple antibiotics over a long period of time. This often leads to noncompliance leading to treatment failure and development of drug resistance. Drug-resistant TB is spreading worldwide, is extremely expensive to treat and threatens our efforts in controlling this disease.

The lengthy regimen needed to treat TB is necessitated due to the ability of the bacteria to escape killing by antibiotics by forming “persistent” subpopulations. Our team is developing approaches to study and characterize these subpopulations of TB bacteria to identify molecules that could specifically target them. We believe that targeting these persisting bacteria will shorten the time required for treatment, making treatment easier and more accessible for TB patients.