TB'S STICKING POINT
One factor that makes tuberculosis (TB) hard to treat is that the bacteria causing it - Mycobacterium tuberculosis - spreads from the lungs to other parts of the body. Camille Locht of the Institut Pasteur de Lille, France, and colleagues now show that this process depends on interactions between one of the bacteria’s surface proteins, ‘mycobacterial heparin-binding haemagglutinin adhesin’ (HBHA), and the cells that line our vessels and tissues - epithelial cells (Nature, Vol. 412, No. 6843, 12 Jul 2001).
In mice, disrupting the gene that codes for this protein (hbha) reduces colonization by M. tuberculosis of the spleen, but not the lungs, the group reports. The leprosy pathogen and other mycobacteria produce similar adhesins, suggesting that these molecules facilitate their dissemination and growth on mucosal surfaces, and hence might be a potential target for new drugs and vaccines.
TB, the world’s leading cause of death due to a single infectious agent, kills 3 million people and infects a further 10 million each year.
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(C) Nature press release.
Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza
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