TRC researchers isolate new molecule to fight TB

Researchers at the Tuberculosis Research Centre (TRC) in Chennai have isolated a new molecule that fights tuberculosis and some strains of HIV.

The molecule, Transitmycin, isolated from a marine microorganism called Streptomyces sp found in soil collected near coral reefs off the Rameshwaram coast, was found to be effective against Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacteria that causes most forms of TB.

The brominated and pigmented (yellow) antibiotic was found effective during in vitro tests against dormant and active forms of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the institute said.

The molecule was also found to act against the B and C strains of HIV that are the most common.

"This one was selected as it was from an extreme environment which man is not part of, and therefore cannot be immune to. It is also pigmented and has a simple structure with a small molecule," Dr Vanaja Kumar, principal investigator and head of department of Bacteriology at TRC, said.

The molecule could be easily absorbed by the human body and if developed into a drug, it would have minimal side effects, she added.