Source: Thailand Medical News  Oct 24, 2019  3 years ago
Study Finds Tocilizumab, An Anti-Arthritis Drug Stops TB From Multiplying In Blood Stem Cells
Study Finds Tocilizumab, An Anti-Arthritis Drug Stops TB From Multiplying In Blood Stem Cells
Source: Thailand Medical News  Oct 24, 2019  3 years ago
Researchers from University Leuven, Belgium including immunologist Johan Van Weyenbergh (KU Leuven) and his Belgian-Brazilian colleagues have shown that a drug used to fight arthritis also stops the process that allows the tuberculosis bacillus to infect and hijack blood stem cells.

Tuberculosis (TB) may affect any part of the body, but the spread of the disease might start in the bone marrow. Immunologists from KU Leuven and Brazil have shown that the TB bacillus hijacks the blood stem cells from the bone marrow to turn them into ideal host cells for multiplication. They also found that this mechanism can be stopped by administering an anti-arthritis drug.

About 25% of the world population is a carrier of Koch's bacillus, which can cause tuberculosis (TB). Most people who are infected have latent tuberculosis, meaning that they don't become ill. However, this latent TB can turn into active tuberculosis when the immune system becomes weaker, for instance in the elderly or in HIV patients. Worldwide, TB claims more than 2.2 million lives each year.

Tuberculosis is mostly known as a lung disease pulmonary tuberculosis is also the infectious form but tuberculosis can affect all tissues and organs. It is still unknown how the disease spreads through the body, although researchers already suspected that the bacillus hides in the bone marrow. In any case, the TB bacillus needs a host. And it is precise ly the blood stem cells that are "tricked" into becoming the perfect hosts, as a study by immunologists from KU Leuven and Brazil has now shown.

The Belgian-Brazilian research team used blood stem cells from bone marrow and umbilical cord blood of healthy donors.

Dr Johan Van Weyenbergh from the Rega Institute at KU Leuven, who is the co-lead author of this study commented in a phone interview with Thailand Medical News, "We put these blood stem cells in a test tube and exposed them to the TB bacillus. As a result, two processes took place: the bacillus infected and started multiplying in the blood stem cells. At the same time, the blood stem cells transformed themselves into a very specific type of white blood cells. Under normal circumstances, white blood cells defend our body against infections, but in this case, they were hijacked by the bacillus and became ideal host cells."

The positive news is that there is a way to stop this process.

Dr Van Weyenbergh further commented "We did a large-scale computer analysis of databases with genes that are important for both TB and blood stem cells. To our surprise, this analysis led us to a medicine against arthritis: Tocilizumab. If you administer that drug in the tests tube, you kill two birds with one stone: the transformation of the blood stem cells into host cells comes to a halt and the multiplication of TB bacilli slows down."

The researchers plan more studies and also to initiative animal models studies before moving on to actual human clinical trials to test the effectiveness of Tocilizumab against TB.
Reference: Murilo Delgobo et al, An evolutionary recent IFN-IL-6-CEBP axis is linked to monocyte expansion and tuberculosis severity in humans, eLife (2019). DOI: 10.7554/eLife.47013


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Source : Thailand Medical news