Brown University

Skip to Navigation

Student-Faculty Partnership Shapes Potential TB Strategy

December 12, 2016

Jason Sello (left) with Kyle Totaro.

Part of the reason tuberculosis-causing bacteria are so good at colonizing the human body is that they have defenses against the body’s immune system. A research team led by Brown University chemists, including Kyle Totaro '14 PhD, has developed a new compound that can take down one of those defenses in Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The researchers are hopeful that the compound could be part of a new drug strategy for treating tuberculosis.

“Given the increasing resistance of Mycobacterium tuberculosis to drugs, we contemplated the treatment of tuberculosis in a fundamentally different way,” said Jason Sello, associate professor of chemistry at Brown who directed the research. “Instead of seeking conventional drug leads that kill M. tuberculosis directly, we hoped to develop compounds that could render the bacterium susceptible to the immune system. We were successful in designing compounds that make laboratory-grown bacteria sensitive to a chemical produced during the immune response.”

Totaro led Sello’s team; he is now a postdoctoral associate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. They also worked collaboratively with research groups at MIT and Weill Cornell Medicine. A paper describing the work is published in the journal ACS Infectious Diseases.

Read more of Kevin Stacey's article on a new drug strategy to fight tuberculosis.