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Cornell researchers search for drugs to combat tuberculosis

Cornell researchers search for drugs to combat tuberculosis

Cornell researchers are searching for chemical compounds that could be developed into new drugs to combat tuberculosis.

Dr. David Russell, professor of Infection Biology at Cornell University, and his colleagues are sifting through a library of nearly 1 million physical chemicals.

They’re looking for compounds that could be effective in attacking the bacteria that causes tuberculosis.

While TB rarely affects the developed world, countries with inadequate health care systems face an epidemic of cases.

Russell says Eastern Europe and parts of South Africa are some examples.

“Anywhere where the health care system is not adequately managing drug treatment, you will get drug resistance emerging,” Russell said.

Making the problem worse is that pharmaceutical companies have little incentive to fund research to find new drugs to combat TB.

“Because if you think about it, if you make a a successful antibiotic, it means that a person takes it for a certain period of time and then they don’t have to take it anymore,” Russell said. “So if your drugs are successful, people don’t have to take them. That means that the income from those drugs is very limited.”

With no support there, Russell and his colleagues are conducting the research with a $1.5 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

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