Genetics-directed drug discovery for combating Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection

Mycobacterium tuberculosis (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.