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Weill Cornell receives $2.4 million in grants from Gates Foundation to fight tuberculosis
Date:12/12/2007

Medical College, and director of the Abby and Howard P. Milstein Program in Chemical Biology. "Finding those effective compounds may also mean more effective therapies for the emerging drug-resistant forms of TB." Dr. Nathan is a principal investigator on one of the two Gates Foundation grants.

Dr. Nathan and his colleagues have helped to shape our basic understanding of innate immunity and host-pathogen interactions. He introduced the concepts of cytokine-mediated activation and deactivation of macrophages, helped identify the first macrophage activating factor (interferon-g) and its therapeutic potential, demonstrated the role of the respiratory burst in macrophage biology, and pioneered numerous advances in inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), which plays a key role in the immune system. These contributions inform current research efforts, including those directed at macrophage interactions with Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

"These grants will also help us to demonstrate to drug companies a safe way to screen hundreds of thousands of chemical compounds against the TB organism so the companies can do it themselves," says Dr. Nathan. "Right now very few drug companies have the special core facilities needed to do such work without risk of infection."

Dr. Dirk Schnappinger, associate professor of microbiology and immunology at Weill Cornell Medical College and principal investigator on one of the Gates Foundation grants, and colleagues are focused on multidisciplinary work in functional genomics, molecular genetics and biochemistry aimed at understanding the contributions of individual genes in M. tuberculosis. They have developed systems that allow silencing of mycobacterial genes in vitro and during macrophage infections. They are using these systems to evaluate the role of specific genes that seem important for the survival of M. tuberculosis within the host. These studies should provide proof-of-principle for the hypotheses that gene
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Contact: Andrew Klein
ank2017@med.cornell.edu
212-821-0560
New York- Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center/Weill Cornell Medical College
Source:Eurekalert

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