India may be the birthplace of tuberculosis, claim Hyderabad researchers
Thursday January 11, 12:55 PM
Washington, Jan. 11 (ANI): India may be the birthplace of tuberculosis, suggests a new study by researchers at the University of Hyderabad.
It is well known that mycobacterium tuberculosis that causes TB has thrived in south Asia for millennia, but none of the researches conducted so far, studied the diversity of the presence of this bacterium's strains.
In order to study this diversity, lead author Niyaz Ahmed and his colleagues collected 91 samples of TB from all over India, and analysed them by studying the number and type of short, repetitive DNA sequences within three key genes.
They discovered that the ancestral strains of the bacterium was widespread, an indication that India might be the ancient reservoir for TB, from which more recent strains evolved and spread to other countries. This might have enabled the immune systems of people living in those countries to adapt to it, providing some degree of protection.
The researchers however feel that the adaptability of people's immune systems to it might be about to change, for the Indian population is far less well adapted to a recent strain of TB, known as Beijing strain, found in India only since 2002, reports New Scientist.
Ahmed, who presented his results at a conference in Bangkok, Thailand, said Beijing was threatening to replace the ancestral strains of the bacterium.
The researchers fear that coinciding with a surge in HIV cases, this may spell disaster for the 5.7 million Indians infected with the virus. (ANI)