Tuberculosis: What We Don’t Know Can, and Does, Hurt Us

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Science  14 May 2010:
Vol. 328, Issue 5980, pp. 852-856
DOI: 10.1126/science.1184784

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Mycobacterium tuberculosis has a penetrance of its host population that would be the envy of most human pathogens. About one-third of the human population would have a positive skin test for the infection and is thus thought to harbor the bacterium. Globally, 22 “high-burden” countries account for more than 80% of the active tuberculosis cases in the world, which shows the inequitable distribution of the disease. There is no effective vaccine against infection, and current drug therapies are fraught with problems, predominantly because of the protracted nature of the treatment and the increasing occurrence of drug resistance. Here we focus on the biology of the host-pathogen interaction and discuss new and evolving strategies for intervention.

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