The Coloradoan (06.19.2013)
Colorado State University (CSU) scientists hope to better understand TB transmission by studying humans and guinea pigs. CSU researchers Randall Basaraba, Diane Ordway, and Ian Orme of the university’s Mycobacteria Research Laboratories will use a $1 million Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation grant to conduct studies at the Airborne Infection Research facility near Pretoria, South Africa. They will study TB-infected patients receiving treatment while living in a sealed ward at the research facility. The scientists will pump the air in the patients’ rooms into an animal exposure room where 360 guinea pigs, some vaccinated against TB disease and some not, will breathe air containing Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The research will illuminate what occurs when the airborne pathogen passes from person to person. Some of the guinea pigs will become infected with TB while others will ward off the disease. Researchers will examine what happens on a genetic level to learn why TB infects some people and not others. Guinea pigs are ideal research models, because they have pulmonary systems similar to human systems. Researchers will use the results to develop more effective TB therapies and vaccines.