A Natural Defense Mechanism That Can Trap and Kill TB Bacteria

A natural mechanism by which our cells kill the bacterium responsible for tuberculosis (TB) has been discovered by scientists at the Francis Crick Institute, which could help in the battle against antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The findings, published in the May 10, 2017 issue of Cell Host & Microbe, could enable scientists to develop treatments for TB - one of the world's biggest health challenges - without the use of antibiotics, meaning that even antibiotic-resistant strains could be eliminated. The open-access article is titled “A Rab20-Dependent Membrane Trafficking Pathway Controls M. tuberculosis Replication by Regulating Phagosome Spaciousness and Integrity.” The research was done in collaboration with scientists at the University of Oslo, the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Germany, and the Radboud Institute for Molecular Life Sciences in the Netherlands. "We are trying to better understand how our cells kill the bacteria with the idea of boosting people's natural defenses in conjunction with conventional therapies to overcome TB," says Maximiliano Gutierrez, PhD, Group Leader at the Francis Crick Institute, who led the study. Immune cells called macrophages recognize and engulf Mycobacterium tuberculosis - the bacterium responsible for TB - securing it within tight-fitting internal compartments known as phagosomes.
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