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Broad Institute Gets $20M Gift to Battle Tuberculosis with Genomic Technology

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – A group of more than 20 philanthropists is providing $20 million in funding to the Broad Institute to use genomic technology to address the problem of drug-resistant tuberculosis. 

Led by Seth Klarman, CEO and president of the Baupost Group, and Bill Ackman, co-founder of the Pershing Square Foundation and CEO of Pershing Square Capital Management, the group is providing the gift to the Broad to use genomic tools and methods to explore the "biological mysteries" of Mycobacterium tuberculosis and better understand how the bacteria becomes resistant to antibiotics. 

According to the Broad, the financing will go toward the development of a rapid diagnostic test for drug-resistant TB, which could result in more effective and earlier treatment. Researchers will use libraries of genetically altered TB strains to investigate questions surrounding the disease, such as how it becomes antibiotic-resistant and why treatment takes so long. 

The Broad also is seeking to set a course to develop new drugs which could shorten the time it takes to treat TB. Currently, the treatment regime takes up to six months of antibiotics, which often have side effects and cause patients to prematurely stop taking the drugs, fueling drug resistance, the Broad said. It noted that more than 2 billion people across the world are infected with TB, and almost 2 million people die from the disease each year. 

The Scan

Interfering With Invasive Mussels

The Chicago Tribune reports that researchers are studying whether RNA interference- or CRISPR-based approaches can combat invasive freshwater mussels.

Participation Analysis

A new study finds that women tend to participate less at scientific meetings but that some changes can lead to increased involvement, the Guardian reports.

Right Whales' Decline

A research study plans to use genetic analysis to gain insight into population decline among North American right whales, according to CBC.

Science Papers Tie Rare Mutations to Short Stature, Immunodeficiency; Present Single-Cell Transcriptomics Map

In Science this week: pair of mutations in one gene uncovered in brothers with short stature and immunodeficiency, and more.