New discovery may help doctors fight TB

April 25, 2011 2:37:12 PM PDT
The discovery of a key enzyme that destroys lung tissue in tuberculosis patients may be a breakthrough to new treatments for the highly infectious disease.

British researchers say the enzyme, which they identify as "MMP-1," gives them their first convincing explanation of how TB destroys lung tissue.

They also say the enzyme appears treatable with so-called MMP inhibitor drugs, which can prevent lung damage and help limit the spread of the disease.

TB kills about 1.7 million people worldwide each year.

The study is published in the current Journal of Clinical Investigation.