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Tuberculosis fighter and promoter reveals what’s behind its split identity

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Tumor necrosis factor – normally an infection-fighting substance produced by the body – can actually heighten susceptibility to tuberculosis if its levels are too high. University of Washington TB researchers unravel this conundrum in a report this week in Cell. Their study shows how excess production of this disease-cell destroyer at first acts as a TB germ killer. But later the opposite occurs: too much tumor necrosis factor encourages TB pathogens to multiply in the body.

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