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As increasing drug resistance makes tuberculosis (TB) ever more threatening, the need for an efficient vaccine is urgent. Most humans naturally possess powerful defence reactions against TB bacteria, which protects them against the disease. Numerous findings have indicated that a certain type of immune cells, CD4+ T lymphocytes, play an essential role, which mostly is the basis for vaccine development. These immune cells learn to react to certain structural motives of the bacteria. Surprisingly it was now found that these structural motives are strikingly similar in TB bacteria from all over the world. Thus, the recognition by CD4+ T lymphocytes appears not to be dangerous for TB bacteria since, obviously, no selective pressure is exerted on the bacteria to change the essential structural motives. Therefore it becomes even more urgent to solve the question of how to design a vaccine that instructs the immune system to kill TB bacteria in all humans – an apt example for the need of disease-oriented basic research.
Mannose-binding protein (MBP) belongs to a group of serum proteins that help immune cells to recognize pathogens.
It is still unclear why only one out of ten infected persons develop tuberculosis whereas the others prevent or control the infection.