A group of researchers from UC San Francisco (UCSF), and UC Berkeley have recently published a study in the journal Molecular Cell, providing insight on the mode of TB infection in people. Their research discovered interactions between tuberculosis and proteins present in the human body that could provide new targets for TB drugs.
"With a better understanding of the mechanisms used by tuberculosis to disrupt our immune response, we could eventually optimize vaccine strategies, as well as explore therapies to supplement antibiotics," --Nevan J. Krogan, PhD, Director of the Quantitative Biosciences Institute at UCSF
Basically, the TB proteins are modified in order to make extraction from human cells easier. Once the TB proteins are inside human cells, they can be removed, and the proteins they were bound to in the human cells analyzed and studied. Using this method, 34 tuberculosis proteins were targeted, with most of them never having been studied previously. The research revealed 187 interactions between the TB and human proteins, with each interaction a potential point to target TB through treatment.
By studying proteins interactions, scientists can map proteins pathways and discover connections that can be compelling drug targets. They can also compare interactions across multiple pathogens and identify similarities, potentially expanding treatment options for patients.
Krogan and Cox recently founded the Host Pathogen Mapping Initiative with investigators from Gladstone, UCSF, UC Berkeley, and UC San Diego. Through this initiative, they will comprehensively map the gene and protein networks underlying infectious disease and develop technologies to lead to novel and targeted therapies. The scientists have already identified common pathways in human cells that bacteria and viral agents often attack. The human genes targeted by tuberculosis, for instance, are the same mutated genes present in other disease states, such as cancer and autism.
This discovery could potentially provide expanded treatment options for patients suffering from TB and other conditions, and allow for specific targeting of diseased cells in people, while leaving healthy cells unharmed.