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"European scientists battle an ancient killer"


Dm, 23/03/2010 - 18:18

"European scientists battle an ancient killer"

The SysteMTb project (Systems Biology of Mycobacterium tuberculosis) is an international effort coordinated by Prof. Luis Serrano from the Centre for Genomic Regulation in Barcelona and funded by the European Commission 7th Framework Programme. 
It catalyzes the partnership between 13 institutions from 9 European countries with more than 10 Million Euros budget. 
Tomorrow, 24th March 2010, is World Tuberculosis Day and the 1st April 2010, the SysteMTb project will kick-off 
Tuberculosis (TB) has been killing people for thousands of years. The microorganism that causes TB, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, has been found in mummies that were buried nearly 3,000 years ago for example. But TB is not just a historical disease. It is still killing people today (nearly two million people) and is one of the world's three most devastating infectious diseases (the other two are HIV and malaria). World TB Day is just one of the many ongoing international initiatives to accelerate action against tuberculosis.
In fact, 7 people die from TB every hour in Europe. And, these numbers are expected to grow. Why? One reason is that TB is very difficult to treat. In fact the microbe that causes TB hides in the soldier cells of our immune system, safely protected from any available treatment. This means that if we want to fight TB, we need to understand how it is able to survive in our bodies. Once we know that, we will be in a better position to find effective treatments. 
So, a European team of 13 laboratories, known as the SysteMTb project, is going back to basics to better understand this killer disease. They are looking at how Mycobacterium tuberculosis survives both inside and outside our cells and how it attacks our immune system. The project has been awarded more than 10 million Euros from the European Commission. SysteMTb will bring together experts in tuberculosis with experts in cutting-edge technologies and systems biology. 
The coordinator Luis Serrano highlights that “the project will bring together for the first time international experts from different fields: from the classical biology of mycobacterium to cutting-edge high throughput technologies, “omics”, and mathematical modeling”. The scientific project manager Dr. Michela Bertero underlines that “if we want to know better how to fight against this thousand year killer, we will have to work hard together to better understand its life style and killing strategies”.
For further information: Laia Cendrós. Communication & PPRR Dept., Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG), Dr. Aiguader, 88 – Edif. PRBB, 08003 Barcelona. Tel. +34 93 316 02 37.