Tuberculosis (TB) affects millions of people and causes more than a million deaths worldwide every year. It’s caused by a bacterial infection in the lungs, requiring a gruelling six month course of antibiotics to shift it. Although there are several different drugs available, it’s not clear exactly which combination works best to stop TB in its tracks. To find out, researchers are creating computer simulations of granulomas – small clusters of cells and bacteria that grow in the lungs as the infection takes hold. The top left image is a real granuloma seen down the microscope, while the bottom left shows the distribution of an antibiotic inside it. The panels on the right are computer simulations. By running different drug combinations through the simulation, researchers were able to pick out the best option. Drug resistant TB is a growing problem, so this model approach could make treatment more effective in future.
Written by Kat Arney
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.