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Fighting Tuberculosis in the 21st Century

Los Alamos research reveals how multidrug-resistant strains of TB recover their fitness after adapting to antibiotic treatments
March 26, 2015
Fighting Tuberculosis in the 21st Century

Tuberculosis, a killer from the past, is still out there—and it’s getting stronger.

Over a million people still die each year from TB. Roughly a third of the world’s population is infected, and nine million new infections occurred in 2013 alone.

The infectious disease community has long been aware that emerging drug resistance is a serious problem in the fight against TB. The World Health Organization has made tremendous progress in their massive global campaign to eradicate TB, which focuses heavily on the issue of resistance and early diagnosis. Recent Los Alamos work now explains the path by which TB bacteria have developed resistance to key antibiotics, at a cost to their overall fitness, and subsequently mutated to recover much of that lost fitness. The research offers direction in terms of better understanding transmission of drug-resistant TB, the need for rapid diagnostics, and the role of compensatory mutations.