Understanding the Promise of Personalized TB Therapy: Insights from Kenyan Research

Tuberculosis Therapy

A Breakthrough in Tuberculosis Treatment: Tailoring to Your Genetic Makeup

In a significant advancement in the realm of personalized medicine, a study led by Dr. Lilian Njagi, a PhD Scholar from the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology , supervised by Dr. Marianne Mureithi of the same department, Dr. Jared Mecha from the Department of Clinical Medicine and Therapeutics and Dr. Videlis Nduba of KEMRI has shed new light on tuberculosis (TB) treatment. Published in BMC Medical Genomics (January 2024), this research is a collaborative effort involving esteemed researchers from various institutions in Kenya.

What's the Big Idea?

The focus of the study is the N-Acetyltransferase-2 (NAT2) gene, which plays a crucial role in drug metabolism. By examining the genetic variations of NAT2 among TB-infected Kenyans, the research aims to pave the way for more effective, personalized TB treatments based on individual genetic profiles.

Key Findings: A Step Towards Personalized Medicine

- The study identified NAT2*4 as the most prevalent genetic variant in the participants.

- Other variants were also discovered, highlighting the genetic diversity in the Kenyan population.

- A substantial number of participants were classified as rapid acetylators, potentially impacting their response to TB medication.

- Notably, more rapid acetylators were found among female participants.

 Why Does This Matter?

TB treatment is notoriously challenging, often hampered by the one-size-fits-all approach. By understanding an individual’s NAT2 genotype, doctors could predict drug metabolism rates, tailoring treatments for better efficacy and fewer side effects.

What's Next?

This groundbreaking research is a step towards translating genetic understanding into clinical practice. The ultimate aim is to establish personalized TB therapy, offering treatments optimized for each patient's genetic makeup.

In summary, Dr. Njagi and her team's research underscores the potential of genetic information in revolutionizing medical treatment. This study is particularly relevant for populations with diverse genetic backgrounds, like in Kenya, offering a beacon of hope for more effective, customized TB treatment strategies in the future.

Taken together, the collaborative efforts of these researchers from the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, Clinical Medicine and Therapeutics and KEMRI represent a significant stride towards a future where medicine is tailored to our unique genetic codes, heralding a new era in the fight against diseases like TB. To read the publication in full, click here