Each year tuberculosis kills about three million people in the world. In particular it is responsible for the death of more than one-third of HIV- infected people, who prove particularly susceptible owing to a decline in immune defences. The agent responsible is a bacterium of the species Mycobacterium tuberculosis, also termed Koch’s bacillus, after the scientist who discovered it in 1882.
Molecular epidemiology has proved valuable for understanding the transmission and control of tuberculosis, thanks to the development of different methods of characterization of the M. tuberculosis genome. However, little genetic data is currently available in the countries of the South, where this disease is often a major public health problem. In Morocco, tuberculosis incidence is still high, with about 30 000 new cases are recorded each year, in spite of a level of HIV infection that remains of quite low concern and the application since 1991 of a WHO strategy called DOTS (2). Researchers from the IRD and their scientific partners (1) studied the genetic diversity and structure of a Moroccan population consisting of 150 strains of the species M. tuberculosis. These strains come from 150 pulmonary tuberculosis infected subjects living in Casablanca, the country’s economic capital, which on its own accounts for one-fifth of all tuberculosis cases declared in Morocco.
Two independent and complementary molecular genotyping techniques were applied to the specimens collected. The first used generalist genetic markers which allow analysis of the genetic diversity of the population considered, but also comparison of the genetic diversity of the pathogenic species M. tuberculosis with that of other microorganisms. The second, which is the most recent technique used for characterizing the M. tuberculosis genome, calls on specific markers of this mycobacterium, adapted to the identification of the different strains isolated.
Marie Guillaume | alfa
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