Northeastern University announced that Dr. Kim Lewis, Professor of Biology and Director of the Antimicrobial Center, is among the recipients of $280 million in grants the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has dedicated to help support the research and speed the development of TB vaccines, diagnostic tests, and treatments.
Northeastern's $750,000 grant will help Dr. Lewis and his team to develop an approach to anti-tuberculosis therapy by studying the latency of tuberculosis.
“The Gates Foundation is leading the charge against tuberculosis by providing substantial support for new ideas that are likely to revolutionize the treatment of the disease” said Lewis. “We are proud to be part of this effort and work together with outstanding scientists around the world to do research that serves global, societal needs.”
Dr. Lewis is a leading expert on dormancy in bacteria, and his lab discovered that many pathogens form “persister” cells which neither grow nor die and are unresponsive to antibiotics. Working with a model organism, E. coli, Dr. Lewis and his group were able to isolate these persister cells for the first time, and study the genes responsible for dormancy.
The knowledge gained from his research will now be used, with support from the Gates award, to learn whether a similar dormancy program is responsible for latency of tuberculosis. These findings will lay the ground for a development of anti-TB drugs capable of eradicating dormant cells, and drastically cut the time of treatment.