Genetics-directed drug discovery for combating <i>Mycobacterium tuberculosis</i> infection

<p><i>Mycobacterium tuberculosis</i> (Mtb), the pathogen of tuberculosis (TB), is one of the most infectious bacteria in the world. The traditional strategy to combat TB involves targeting the pathogen directly; however, the rapid evolution of drug resistance lessens the efficiency of this anti-TB method. Therefore, in recent years, some researchers have turned to an alternative anti-TB strategy, which hinders Mtb infection through targeting host genes. In this work, using a theoretical genetic analysis, we identified 170 Mtb infection-associated genes from human genetic variations related to Mtb infection. Then, the agents targeting these genes were identified to have high potential as anti-TB drugs. In particular, the agents that can target multiple Mtb infection-associated genes are more druggable than the single-target counterparts. These potential anti-TB agents were further screened by gene expression data derived from connectivity map. As a result, some agents were revealed to have high interest for experimental evaluation. This study not only has important implications for anti-TB drug discovery, but also provides inspirations for streamlining the pipeline of modern drug discovery.</p>