Researchers Find Potential Way to Tweak Immune System to Help It Fight Tuberculosis

Igor Kramnik (left) and Shivraj M. Yabaji
NEIDL/CAMED’s Igor Kramnik, at left, with post-doctoral associate Shivraj Yabaji has a new paper on treating TB forthcoming in the journal Science Advances. Photos taken at the NEIDL Sept 20.
Photo by Cydney Scott for Boston University Photography

Original article from The Brink by Andrew Thurston. September 27, 2023.

TB is the world’s second-deadliest infectious disease, behind COVID-19. A new BU-led study shows how to turn TB-susceptible immune cells into TB-resistant ones.

More than a million people around the world still die from TB every year.

Now, a Boston University–led research team has found a way to tweak immune cells to better fight the disease and—with the right backing and funding—they say it could be ready for clinical trials as soon as next year. In a study published in Science Advances, the researchers identified the genetic signatures of TB-susceptible and TB-resistant white blood cells, called macrophages, and then tested the ability of different compounds to transform vulnerable cells into more resilient ones.

“The TB vaccine is not really 100 percent efficient and antibiotic resistance is becoming more prevalent,” says Igor Kramnik, the study’s corresponding author and a BU Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine associate professor of medicine. His team’s approach could add another weapon to the arsenal that’s fighting TB: a host-directed therapy, a way of helping the body better control infection and reduce disease-related inflammation. “It’s a way of treating the host, the patient, rather than focusing on the pathogen.”

Click to read the full article at The Brink.