Marcelo Martí
2012, Argentina & Uruguay
New approach in the search for effective TB treatment
Biotechnology

The World Health Organization (WHO) aims to completely eradicate tuberculosis by the year 2050. One of the problems associated with TB is that there are no drugs that attack the disease during the latency period before it becomes active and contagious. However the existence of treatment for patients who have not yet passed the latency stage is a necessary requirement to achieve WHO´s goal, according to a study published in 2009 in the scientific magazine Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and cited by WHO, making the development of new drugs a pressing matter.

Marcelo Martí, an Argentinean biologist and biotechnology expert, is well aware of this fact, and he is working on the development of techniques to solve it. Through his research, Marti has come to the conclusion that the use of bioinformatics tools able to process, store and analyze large quantities of data at the molecular level, combined with studies at the protein level both inside and outside the body, will allow researchers to develop more effective and even customized treatments for tuberculosis. Drugs capable of effectively eliminating the tuberculosis germ could be developed by obtaining a list of potential therapeutic targets to be attacked.

The combination of strategies and skills is what makes this project so innovative. Of a strong interdisciplinary nature, Marti´s process includes the use of computer programming techniques using biological and chemical parameters, and involves the development of technologies capable of obtaining knowledge at the  molecular level which will prove highly useful not only for the future treatment of tuberculosis, but also of other infectious diseases.