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Treatment for TB can be Guided by Patients’ Genetics

A gene that influences the inflammatory response to infection may also predict the effectiveness of drug treatment for a deadly form of tuberculosis.

An international collaboration between researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle, Duke University, Harvard University, the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit in Vietnam and Kings College London reported these findings Feb. 3 in the journal Cell.

These results suggest the possibility of tailoring tuberculosis treatment, based on a patient’s genetic sequence at a gene called LTA4H, which controls the balance between pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory substances produced during an infection.

Tuberculosis can take hold if disease-fighting inflammation is either too weak or too strong. The strength of the response is in part the result of a person’s LTA4H gene sequence. Knowing whether a patient has the gene sequence for one extreme response or the other could help guide medication decisions.

Dr. Lalita Ramakrishnan, professor of microbiology, medicine and immunology at the University of Washington and the senior author of the study, said that the study suggested that that increased TB disease severity in humans can occur for fundamentally opposite reasons.
 
 

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