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TB bug mapped

doi:10.1038/nindia.2010.44 Published online 11 April 2010

India's science minister Prithviraj Chavan (top) and CSIR DG Samir Brahmachari at the meet.

Indian scientists today unveiled the complete genome map of the TB bug Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), paving way for cheaper drug options for the long neglected disease.

The national research body Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) released results of its marathon project to re-annotate the biological and genetic information of Mtb genome at a conference.

The comprehensive map of the Mtb genome has been compiled, verified and made publicly available for the first time. The project might contain critical data to unlock previously undiscovered details of tuberculosis that help make new TB drugs, the scientists said.

No new TB drug has been developed since Refampicin, the last anti-TB molecule discovered in 1963.

"Diseases like TB with high mortality but low profitability are neglected by the current system of pharmaceutical research...we hope to be able to take one new molecule to the clinical trial stage within 18-24 months," Samir Brahmachari, Director General of CSIR said while announcing the completion of the project.

Researchers and students used online tools to look at 4000 genes of the deadly pathogen. Their work is shared globally through an online database with institutions involved in TB research. A Rs 146 crore project launched in September 2008, Open Source Drug Discovery (OSDD) has nearly 3000 members from 74 countries working on TB research.