Drugs that target the host to treat tuberculosis

Francisco José Roca Soler


    Francisco José Roca Soler


    Universidad de Murcia, Spain


    Macrophages are a type of white blood cell that are part of the body's defence mechanism and destroy pathogenic bacteria. In the case of tuberculosis, the microbes responsible for the infection are able to survive in the interior of these cells, multiply and even kill them. This exacerbates the infection and leads to new cases.

    The bacteria that causes tuberculosis has infected human beings for thousands of years. During this long co-evolution between host and pathogen the bacteria has “learnt” to take advantage of and use to its benefit the weapons of the immune system that the host employs to combat infections. One of these weapons is the tumour necrosis factor (TNF), a protein that triggers inflammation with such powerful effects that it can damage the tissues when its production gets out of control.

    The project seeks to identify therapies targeting the host to treat tuberculosis by intercepting the negative effects of TNF that the bacteria use to cause the disease. These therapies can be used in both drug-susceptible and drug-resistant tuberculosis to reduce the seriousness of the illness and the number of infections. It may also be effective for other inflammatory diseases with common harmful responses.


    Molecular dissection of TNF-mediated pathogenic macrophage necrosis in tuberculosis