Marker found for predisposition to tuberculosis

Scientists believe they have found a marker indicating genetic predisposition to tuberculosis, bringing closer the day when doctors can adjust therapies to individuals based on their genotype. Two mutations in an immune system gene called TLR1 are responsible for cellular changes that bring resistance to TB, according to research presented in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology.

"The study may help to characterize individuals with increased susceptibility to tuberculosis, which might result in faster and more effective recognition and therapy of this disease," Lothar Rink, of the Institute of Immunology at RWTH Aachen University Hospital in Aachen, Germany, said in a release. "We hope that our results have implications for understanding the pathogenesis of mycobacterial infections associated with TLR1."

In the study, out of 71 healthy people tested about half lacked the TLR1 proteins necessary for the immune system to recognize tuberculosis. Those without it appeared to be more susceptible to the disease, although more studies need to be done, the researchers said.

John Wherry, deputy editor of the journal, said that a test like this would take the burden off expensive antibiotics currently used to treat tuberculosis, antibiotics that "take a long time and are becoming less effective against drug-resistant strains," he said in the release. "Understanding why some people are more likely than others to become infected should help prioritize who should receive drug treatment in the developing world and lead to strategies for universal vaccines or therapeutics."

- take a look at the release
- and the abstract in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology