Far from being a disease of the past, tuberculosis killed nearly 1.5 million people in 2018, according to the WHO. The United Nations has set the eradication of the TB pandemic by 2030 as one of its sustainable development goals. To achieve this goal, basic research is essential. In this field, the multidisciplinary Explore-TB research project* has just received signifiant support from the Bettencourt Schueller Foundation.
In 2013, O. Neyrolles was awarded the Prix Coups d'élan pour la recherche française from the Bettencourt Schueller Foundation. The infrastructures renovated thanks to the endowment benefit all the research teams, offering optimal safety conditions for researchers working with the TB bacillus in vivo. The research project that the Foundation will support over five years is based on cutting-edge microscopy tools and functional exploration of infected tissues. The researchers will use a new line of mouse models of TB. These mice develop a pulmonary pathology close to that observed in humans in terms of the diversity and severity of lesions. The researchers will be able to answer fundamental questions concerning the physiology and virulence of the bacillus, the microenvironment in which the infectious foci develop and the interactions between the organism and the pathogen at the level of lung lesions. Understanding the exact nature of this microenvironment is key as it is a major bottleneck that limits the effectiveness of current approaches, both therapeutic and vaccine.
New therapeutic targets and vaccine candidates are expected to be revealed through this research program. This research is also an opportunity for researchers to acquire and strengthen the know-how and mastery of cutting-edge technologies needed to confront the threat of future infectious diseases.
*The Explore-TB project is coordinated by Olivier Neyrolles, and involves the research groups led by Jérome Nigou and Christophe Guilhot, and the Functional exploration and Imaging facilities, led by Magali Jacquier and Antonio Peixoto, members of the Genotoul consortium.
Link to the project (in french) here