Science for Health
Worldwide more people die from tuberculosis (TB) than any other infectious disease. The agent responsible, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, survives within the very cells of the immune system designed to eliminate invading organisms. The key question that we are addressing is: 'How does M. tuberculosis adapt to and withstand the conditions it encounters there?' A clearer understanding of this is important for the development of new drugs to treat TB.
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During the course of infection and transmission, M. tuberculosis is exposed to a range of conditions to which it must adapt, ultimately resulting in persistence or replication.
In order to adapt, gene expression must be regulated in response to particular conditions. We are studying the control of gene expression by specific regulatory proteins using molecular techniques to identify regulatory networks and the effect of their disruption on the ability of the bacteria to cause disease in infection models. We are particularly interested in DNA repair and the response to DNA damage, as during infection the bacteria are exposed to agents known to damage DNA. We hope that these studies will identify targets for the development of new drugs for the treatment of tuberculosis.
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