A Multi-scale systems pharmacology approach to TB therapy

  • Dartois, Veronique (PI)
  • Kirschner, Denise (CoPI)
  • Linderman, Jennifer Jean (CoPI)

Project Details


? DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Tuberculosis (TB) is a pulmonary disease resulting from infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb). TB is treatable but requires multiple antibiotics taken for >6 months, and the emergence of drug resistant Mtb (MDR and XDR-TB) has strained our current small arsenal of effective TB drugs. The situation is desperate considering there are 9 million new cases of active TB every year. The pathological hallmarks of TB are granulomas, dense spherical collections of immune cells that serve to protect the host but also isolate and shelter the pathogen. Granulomas pose a two- fold challenge to TB treatment: granulomas present a physical barrier for antibiotic penetration, and bacterial subpopulations with diminished antibiotic susceptibility emerge within granulomas. These difficulties contribute to the challenge of devising new and more effective treatment strategies for TB: getting the right drugs at the right concentration to the right location to kill the appropiate bacterial subpopulation. Processes that participate in these dynamics act across scales ranging from molecular (e.g. drug diffusion), cellular (e.g. macrophage activation), tissue (e.g. granuloma formation), organs (e.g. blood delivery of antibiotics) up to the entire host. To elaborate mechanisms driving dynamics in this complex system and to answer this vital challenge, we propose a multi-scale systems pharmacology approach. We use multi-scale computational modeling to track drug distributions in granulomas and development of resistance. We identify a novel bridge between the scale of host lung granulomas to the entire host scale where the disease manifests, and we use new approaches to predict better treatment options. We partner this with state-of-the-art experimental methods for imaging drug distribution within granulomas from humans, non-human primates (NHP) and rabbits. We perform Virtual Clinical Trials and test our prediction of a specific regimen for an efficacy trial in NHP models o TB with human-like pathology. To tackle this challenging proposition, we propose to: (1) Determine the spatial and temporal distributions of TB antibiotics within granulomas, and predict the development of resistance; (2) Identify optimal antibiotic treatment regimens for TB using genetic algorithms to narrow the combinatorial design space of antibiotics (e.g. drug classes, dosing, schedule); (3) Perform virtual clinical trials at a population level to test treatment regimens we identify, and test the optimal regimen in the NHP system against a standard regimen. Our outstanding interdisciplinary team and unique approach will allow for rapid assessment of new strategies and ultimately reduce the number of TB deaths world-wide.
Effective start/end date9/1/168/31/21


  • National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: $800,540.00
  • National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: $717,122.00
  • National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: $717,296.00
  • National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: $714,113.00


  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Pharmacology
  • Immunology


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