Scientists say they'll have a cure for tuberculosis in five years

Last updated at 21:13 06 March 2008

Breakthrough: Scientists say they could have a cure for tuberculosis in five years

Scientists have taken a significant step towards finding a cure for tuberculosis.

Researchers at the University of Leicester say they are five to ten years from developing a drug treatment for the disease.

After spending ten years and £4million studying the disease, academics at the university's department of biochemistry have identified two proteins in the TB bacterium that allow it to thrive in white blood cells.

Dr Mark Carr, who has led the research at the university, said: "This is a major success for a UK research group.

"It's a significant step. When we started, there wasn't a single TB protein that was directly associated as having the ability to cause the disease.

"What we have identified is two of the proteins that are critical for the process of the disease developing.

"If you stop the TB producing these proteins, then you stop their ability to cause TB."

The disease has been resurgent in recent years, not only in the Third World but also in developed countries.

In 2005, 8,500 cases of TB were reported in the UK, according to the World Health Organisation.

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