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Tufts University School of Medicine

New cell profiling method could speed TB drug discovery

A medical illustration of drug-resistant, Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria
A medical illustration of drug-resistant, Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria. Credit: CDC/ Alissa Eckert; James Archer
Thursday, July 23, 2020 - 12:00pm

BOSTON (July 23, 2020)—A new technology that combines high throughput imaging and machine learning could speed discovery of drugs to fight tuberculosis, which for generations has killed more people worldwide than any other disease caused by a single agent—4,000 people every day.

Current treatment requires multiple drugs for at least six months and sometimes years, and antibiotic resistance is growing, increasing urgency for finding new treatments.

However, drug discovery typically requires production of hundreds of derivatives of an original compound in order to find the most effective version. The new technology—dubbed MorphEUS (Morphological Evaluation and Understanding of drug Stress)—provides a rapid, efficient, cost-effective way to determine how specific compounds act to destroy Mycobcterium tuberculosis (M. tb), the bacterium that causes tuberculosis.

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