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Tuberculosis persists in many patients after they receive drug therapies, while others relapse after being successfully cured of symptoms, a study published in Nature Medicine finds.

Patients with pulmonary tuberculosis (TB) are typically treated with several medications for a period of six months, and some longer. Through PET and CT scans, and by looking for the presence of Mycobacterium tuberculosis mRNA in patients during treatment, researchers discovered that TB lesions and the infecting bacteria can remain in the lungs long after treatment – even if M. tuberculosis can no longer be cultured from a sputum sample.

“This is very surprising: When we treat people with TB drugs, we don’t seem to always cure the infection, even if patients appear to be clinically cured,” said David Alland, a co-author and director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. “Therefore, the body must do the rest of the job. We need to find ways to stimulate the body’s immune system to find a faster way of killing TB.”

Read more here.