Tuberculosis is a serious infectious disease normally caused by bacteria called Mycobacterium or Koch’s bacillus mainly affecting the lungs. It is transmitted through the air when the bacteria host coughs or sneezes.
A research made in 2014 on the corpse of a Peruvian who had Tuberculosis showed that Tuberculosis has existed for over 6000 years but the bacteria that cause this disease was only discovered on March 24th, 1882 by Dr. Robert Koch. This day was made the World Tuberculosis Day.
Recently, a team of Rwandan researchers discovered other bacteria that can potentially cause Tuberculosis.
Ngabonziza Semuto Jean Claude, the leader of the team of researchers responsible of this discovery told IGIHE that since Tuberculosis was discovered, researchers around the world continuously tried to find ways to cure it and analyze ways through which the disease is transmitted and prevent that.
So far, bacteria that have been discovered are in 8 categories and are named after how they are transmitted from host to host.
Ngabonziza says that in May 2017, the team he leads started research on severe tuberculosis in Rwanda. It was a research that aimed at finding faster ways to test severe Tuberculosis and treat it given the fact that it requires Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for treatment.
The team made in-depth analysis of the newly discovered bacteria and in December 2017, it was confirmed that it was indeed a previously unidentified cause of Tuberculosis basing on DNA compositions. The bacteria were found in a patient from Rulindo District.
Even though that patient passed in a very short period after he started treatment, research to learn more about the bacteria continues.
Ngabonziza stated that one of the unusual criteria of the ninth Tuberculosis bacteria is that it shows the genetic evolution the bacteria has undergone compared to the 8 previous.
Normally, it takes more than three months to confirm that treatment for Severe Tuberculosis is effective but this research will see this time reducing down to at least one week.
Ngabonziza added that while the team was trying to find out ways to reduce the time it takes for Severe Tuberculosis to respond to treatment; they discovered the new bacteria. It has never been identified by any researcher in the world.
Our patient was the only person ever to host that bacteria and it was not responding to treatment.
Research on bacteria is done by analyzing the bacterial phyla or major lineages that differentiate them from each other.
Since the research started, the bacteria that was first discovered was called Lineage 1 (L1), the second lineage, L2 up to the 8th lineage (L8)
The types of bacteria differ from each other by the way they are transmitted and the way they respond to medication.
Bacteria also differ from each other by their living processes which make them useful for the human body or make them cause diseases.
The bacteria that was discovered has not yet been assigned a name but it is very probable, it will be called ‘L9’ to signify that it is the 9th lineage of Tuberculosis bacteria.
The discovery will be announced in the Medical Scientific Journal, two months from now.
Throughout the research, RBC partnered with international research centers including The Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp, Belgium; Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Lille, France, GenoScreen in France, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute in Switzerland and Laboratoire de Référence des Mycobactéries in Cotonou, Benin.