After three decades of searching, the random screening of a group of compounds against the bacterium that causes tuberculosis has led scientists to a eureka discovery that breaks through the fortress that protects the bacterium and allows it to survive and persist against treatments.
The two findings, which occurred at Colorado State University, are published today in Nature Chemical Biology. The article describes the discovery of an important cell function in the bacterium that causes tuberculosis which allows the bacterium to survive. The researchers also discovered a compound that prevents this cell function.
The bacterium that causes tuberculosis is extremely difficult to kill and current tuberculosis drugs on the market don’t do well to treat it. Six months of multiple antibiotics are generally required to treat tuberculosis in most people, and many current drugs no longer work because of resistant strains of the bacterium that causes tuberculosis. Scientists hope that finding new drugs to kill the bacteria in ways different than current drugs will help tackle those strains.