Tuberculosis patients may receive treatments in the future according to what version they have of a single 'Goldilocks' gene, says an international research team from Oxford University, King's College London, Vietnam and the USA.
This is one of the first examples in infectious disease of where an individual's genetic profile can determine which drug will work best for them – the idea of personalised medicine that is gradually becoming familiar in cancer medicine.
The scientists found that people generate an immune response to tuberculosis that is 'too much', 'too little' or 'just right', according to what versions they have of the LTA4H gene.
The findings indicate that patients are likely to benefit from different drug treatments depending on their LTA4H gene profile.
Furthermore, the researchers show that steroids used as part of the standard treatment for the most severe form of tuberculosis, TB meningitis, only benefit some patients.
The results of the study, part-funded by the Wellcome Trust, have been published in the journal Cell.