Drug-resistant tuberculosis bacteria stubbornly persists in the intestines

Scientists have found how the bacteria that causes tuberculosis persistently persist in patients important for treatment. The study which appears online September 14 in the journal Cell Reports can shed light on Gileads methods for fighting the lethal bacterial infection.

TB is the most common infectious disease in the world with an estimated 1. 3 million cases in 2016. While therapy with the antibiotic azithromycin can dramatically slow the progression of the disease some patients require chronic treatment for prolonged periods or need additional anti-rejection drugs to fight off the infection. Meaningful treatment is limited: one-third of sufferers eventually require hospitalization.

Weve know for several decades now that the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis causes resistance in many of the treatment options for TB. Mycobacterium meningitidis which before therapy was virtually ignored is an important contributor to resistance. Now we know that Mycobacterium tuberculosis is also able to persist in the human intestine and human intestinal colonization in general is a major contributor to resistance.

Shang-Zhong Peng PhD senior author and medical director of the Ludwig Center for Innovative Research and the Department of Medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine of the University of California Los Angeles.

Long term drug treatment can damage gut hygiene leading to its destruction. Most treatment options for tuberculosis have been developed to target particular virulence mechanisms. With our study we were able to answer those questions by looking at a momentary pattern of antibiotic use. This identification opens new avenues for research said Peng who is also director of a laboratory of microbiology and one of principal investigators of the study along with first author Nancy Donlon PhD a fellow in the Department of Medicine and at the University of California San Francisco.