Tuberculosis bacteria may use stem cells normally found in the bone marrow to hide in the lungs, researchers said as they pinpointed a possible new target for treatments to fight the infectious disease.
TB recruits mesenchymal stem cells to the lungs, where they help suppress the immune system that fights disease, the scientists said in a study released today by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The stem cells produce nitric oxide, a chemical that reduces the type of white blood cells called T-cells, the researchers wrote.
About one third of the world’s people are infected with the bacteria that can cause TB, according to the World Health Organization, based in Geneva, said on its website. The disease is difficult to treat, especially with the emergence of drug- resistant strains. The study suggests that the mesenchymal stem cells are potentially a target for new treatments for TB, a malady that the scientists said kills 1.7 million people last year.
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