TB discovery could help curb antibiotic resistance: 5 things to know

Although active tuberculosis only develops in about one in 10 cases, some estimates suggest that the bacteria lie dormant in up to one-third of the world's population. With concerns over antibiotic resistance growing, new plans of attack are valuable tools to keep infection-causing bacteria guessing.

Researchers from the University of Sussex in Falmer, U.K., and the Rockefeller University in New York City, have unveiled a key process within the bacteria that cause tuberculosis that could lead to new possible treatments.

Here are five things to know about the findings.

1. The scientists found the transcription process TB bacteria, or Mycobacterium tuberculosis, use to read the information contained in DNA is different from that in most other types of bacteria.
2. Transcription occurs through the use of an enzyme that calls upon a certain protein to bind with parts of DNA, enabling the bacteria to access the information contained within.
3. In this paper, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of the USA, the researchers detail observing a second protein in the TB transcription process for the first time.
4. Until recently, scientists thought the transcription process was essentially identical between bacteria, according to Mark Paget, PhD, lead researcher for the study.
5. The new research reflects a variation in the way that Mycobacterium tuberculosis performs transcription, potentially giving researchers a new target within the bacteria for drugs and treatments.

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