Research Fellows Directory
Professor Gurdyal Besra FRSC
University of Birmingham
The cell wall of Mycobacterium tuberculosis: A focus for new drug targets and vaccines
There has been no significant decrease in worldwide mortality due to tuberculosis (TB) since before the time of Koch; the advent of sanatoria and chemotherapy, which drastically reduced TB in the more developed countries, has had no profound effect on the global problem. The reasons for the transient increase have been well documented: the HIV/AIDS epidemic, increased immigration and transmission from high-prevalence countries, and the emergence of multi-drug resistant strains of TB. We (GSB) have contributed over the past several years in understanding the characteristics of the cell wall of TB, which has been the site of action of a number of front-line TB agents. We have now opted for a broader strategy: identification of new drug targets and drug development (with Professor Minnikin); vaccine development; identification of mechanisms of intracellular survival, replication and pathogenesis; definition of the fundamental genome of the tubercle bacillus, its phenotype and the functionality of the phenotypic characteristics through derivation of mutants. It is a widely held view that efforts to relieve the disease burden imposed by tuberculosis must benefit from concerted attempts to understand the basic biochemistry of the organism, particularly in view of the current availability genomic data from the M. tuberculosis genome. Thus, providing a timely insight into these remarkable bacteria and several novel areas of mycobacterial cell wall physiology.