News of the WeekMicrobiology

New Clues to How the TB Bacillus Persists

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Science  26 May 2000:
Vol. 288, Issue 5470, pp. 1314-1315
DOI: 10.1126/science.288.5470.1314

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How the tuberculosis bacterium manages to persist silently in the body for years to decades before exploding in disease has long been a mystery--one just now beginning to be solved. Two groups, one of which reports its results on page 1436, have identified genes that may be required for persistent TB infection. If so, the proteins made by the genes could be good targets for new drugs against TB, which are badly needed because the pathogen is becoming resistant to current medications.