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New genomic marker for tuberculosis may help identify patients who will develop the disease
Date:8/29/2010

It may soon be possible to identify patients who will develop tuberculosis, as scientists have identified changes in the blood specific to the disease. These findings are from an international study published in the August 19 issue of Nature and conducted by doctors and researchers at Nationwide Children's Hospital using blood profiling techniques to understand infections.

Tuberculosis (TB) is caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which usually attacks the lungs and can be fatal if not treated properly. Although TB is no longer a leading cause of death in the United States, it remains an epidemic in much of the world. One third of the world's total population is infected with the microbes that cause TB; however, most people infected with M. tuberculosis remain asymptomatic with latent TB. People with latent TB have a 10 percent lifetime risk of developing active TB, but current tests can not identify which individuals will develop the disease.

"Tools to diagnose infections like TB, bronchiolitis and pneumonia have been developed and are actively used to classify patients as being infected with specific pathogens, but we are still unable to predict how each person is going to react to the infection," said one of the study's authors Octavio Ramilo, MD, chief of Infectious Diseases at Nationwide Children's Hospital. "It's difficult to predict patient outcomes, and this is a real problem."

To combat this problem, Dr. Ramilo and Asuncion Mejias, MD, investigators at the Center for Vaccines and Immunity in The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital, are using microarray technology to develop blood profiles in patients specific to infectious diseases.

"Each infectious agent, be it a virus or a bacterium, interacts with human immune cells in unique ways by triggering proteins on white blood cells," said Dr. Mejias. "We can identify patterns among the white blood cell's activated proteins and identi
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Contact: Mary Ellen Peacock
MaryEllen.Peacock@NationwideChildrens.org
614-355-0495
Nationwide Children's Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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