A systems biology approach to understanding the immunobiology of tuberculosis infection and treatment
Tuberculosis (TB) is one of the world’s deadliest infectious diseases. Caused by the pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), the standard regimen for treating TB consists of treatment with multiple antibiotics for at least six months. There are a number of complicating factors that contribute to the need for this long treatment duration and increase the risk of treatment failure. The structure of granulomas, lesions forming in lungs in response to Mtb infection, create heterogeneous antibiotic distributions that limit antibiotic exposure to Mtb. We can use a systems biology approach pairing experimental data from non-human primates with computational modeling to represent and predict how factors impact antibiotic regimen efficacy and granuloma bacterial sterilization. We utilize an agent-based, computational model that simulates granuloma formation, function and treatment, called GranSim. A goal in improving antibiotic treatment for TB is to find regimens that can shorten the time it takes to sterilize granulomas while minimizing the amount of antibiotic required. We also created a whole host model to study Mtb dynamics within a human host. Overall, we use these models to help better understand TB treatment and strengthen our ability to predict regimens that can improve clinical treatment of TB.