May 18, 2021

Tuberculosis (TB) is a serious disease that mostly affects the lungs, but can also cause damage to the kidneys, spine or brain. TB spreads from person to person through small droplets transferred via coughing and sneezing. Symptoms of TB include severe coughing for over three weeks, chest pain and coughing up blood or mucus.

Even after years of research, tuberculosis still remains one of the world’s deadliest diseases— especially in low-income countries. While TB related deaths have decreased by 30% globally, 1.4 million people died from it in 2019. Fortunately, researchers at the Southwest National Primate Research Center (SNPRC) at Texas Biomedical Research Institute are getting closer to pinpointing a new way to treat and control TB.

“Single-cell RNAseq is a novel approach that has developed in the past three or four years. It’s an approach that allows us to look at the immune response more granularly, in higher resolution. We were able to identify an immune response to Mtb infection in single lung cells as the infection progressed to disease, in some cases, or was controlled in others,” stated Deepak Kaushal, Ph.D., director of SNPRC.

The study highlights that plasmacytoid dendritic cells, which sense infections in the body, overproduce Type I interferons—a response correlated with disease instead of control. This discovery gives scientists the information needed to alter vaccines.

Dr. Kaushal explains, “When we have a more precise understanding of how an infection develops, that knowledge can lead us to identify new drugs or therapies to treat disease and improve vaccines.”

Overall, the research being done by SNPRC may lead to finding a way to control and prevent TB. Learn more about our TB-related studies by visiting this link.   

Back to top