Tuberculosis causes more deaths than almost any other infectious agent, with nearly 2 million deaths each year. One-third of the world's population is latently infected with the causative agent, Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The ability of M. tuberculosis to enter into a latent state is thought to be the reason for the prolonged period of treatment required to prevent relapse, since drugs currently available mainly target actively growing bacteria.
The vast pool of latently infected individuals is a constant source of disease and transmission, as factors weakening the immune response, such as HIV infection, lead to the emergence of active disease and infection with TB is a significant cause of AIDS-associated mortality in developing countries. This project suggests to tackle the problem of latency by focusing on the mechanisms that govern chromosome integrity. There is evidence that M. tuberculosis is exposed to DNA-damaging conditions in the host during latent infection.
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