Wednesday June 26, 2019

Researchers Identify Master Cell Playing Key Role in Fighting TB

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 1.5 million people died of TB in 2017, making it the most lethal infectious disease worldwide

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WHO will start working towards ending Tuberculosis
Dr. Simon Angelo (L) examines Iman Steven suffering from tuberculosis, held by her mother (R) at the hospital of Doctors Without Borders (MSF), June 15, 2016, at the Protection of Civilians (PoC) site in Malakal, South Sudan. VOA

Researchers have identified a master cell that coordinates the body’s immune response in the early days of TB infection.

According to the study published in the journal Nature, the researchers found that boosting the activity of such cells could help reduce the millions of new infections that occur worldwide every year.

For the study, the researchers from Washington University School of Medicine and Africa Health Research Institute carried out research on animals and people to identify the immune cells that defend the body against the TB bacteria in the first days after infection.

“The immune response to the TB bacteria hinges on the early response of this cell, and that opens up a whole new avenue for TB control,” said the study’s co-senior author Shabaana Abdul Khader, Professor at Washington University School of Medicine, US.

Experiments showed that within five days after infection, ILC3 cells show up in the lungs, where they release chemical compounds that activate and attract other immune cells. The arriving cells include other innate immune cells – which come loaded with bacteria-killing weapons – as well as adaptive immune cells that direct and enhance the innate immune cells’ killing potential. Together, the immune cells surround the bacteria and destroy them.

“These innate lymphoid cells seem to orchestrate all the early downstream immune responses, both innate and adaptive, that you need to control infection,” noted Khader.

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A tuberculosis patient holds medicines at the Lal Bahadur Shastri Government Hospital at Ram Nagar in Varanasi, India, March 13, 2018. VOA

The researchers have begun screening a set of chemical compounds, looking for ones that enhance ILC3 activity and drive a stronger immune response in the first day after infection.

“The more we can understand about the interaction between the bacteria that cause TB and people, the more chance we have of building on these gains and defeating this deadly epidemic,” said the study’s co-senior author Alasdair Leslie, a faculty member from Africa Health Research Institute, South Africa.

The researchers maintained that they wouldn’t want to replace the BCG vaccine.

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“We may be able to find a compound that we can use to boost immunity in vaccinated children when the effects of the BCG start to wear off,” Khader said.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 1.5 million people died of TB in 2017, making it the most lethal infectious disease worldwide. (IANS)

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Tuberculosis A Vicious Epidemic: Deputy UN Chief

The WHO released its annual TB report. It found cases in all countries and among all age groups.

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Chronic doctor shortage affecting Delhi government-run hospitals. VOA

Tuberculosis (TB) is a vicious epidemic that is drastically underfunded. That was the takeaway message from the first high-level meeting focused on the infectious disease at the U.N. General Assembly in New York.

Amina Mohammad, U.N. deputy secretary-general, said the disease is fueled by poverty, inequality, migration and conflict, and that an additional $13 billion per year is needed to get the disease under control.

Last year, tuberculosis killed more people than any other communicable disease — more than 1.3 million men, women and children.

The World Health Organization estimates that the 10 million people who become newly infected each year live mostly in poor countries with limited access to health care.

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The Bacteria that causes Tuberculosis

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the WHO, told the assembly that partnership is vital to end the disease. He said the WHO is committed to working with every country, partner and community to get the job done.

The WHO plans to lead U.N. efforts to support governments and other partners in order to drive a faster response to TB.

Most people can be cured with a six-month treatment program. But as world leaders told the assembly, medication is expensive, and the stigma associated with TB interferes with getting people screened and treated.

Nandita Venkatesan, a young woman from India, told the assembly about the toll the disease has taken on her life. She got TB more than once, including a drug-resistant variety. She said it robbed her of eight years of her life while she was being treated. One of the medications she took to help cure TB robbed her of her hearing.

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Amina Mohammad, U.N. deputy secretary-general, said the disease is fueled by poverty, inequality, migration and conflict, Pixabay

Venkatesan said getting cured involved hospital stays, six surgeries and negative reactions to at least one drug used to cure her.

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Just days before the high-level meeting, the WHO released its annual TB report. It found cases in all countries and among all age groups. It also found that two-thirds of the cases were in eight countries — India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, China, Indonesia, the Philippines, South Africa and Nigeria.

The meeting ended with the adoption of a declaration intended to strengthen action and investments for ending TB and saving millions of lives. (VOA)