German scientists bring TB research up close and personal

9 May 2009 -- Braunschweig, Germany -- The Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research opened its doors to the public on Saturday, with hands-on exhibits and access to TB researchers. "We wanted to educate our visitors about tuberculosis and generate interest and enthusiasm for the work we do -- especially among our local young people -- and in this we were very successful," said Dr Matthias Stehr, a scientist in the centre's Department of Genome Analysis. Some 1500 residents of this historic northern city of 250 000 people visited the centre over the course of the day.

The Helmholtz Centre, which employs some 600 staff from more than 40 countries, is engaged in basic research on TB -- chiefly the study of the molecular biology of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. "We are analyzing the structure of the drug targets and antigens characteristic of the various strains of the tuberculosis bacterium. Supported by the European Community projects NEW TB DRUGS, FAST-XDR-DETECT, and FASTEST-TB the objectives are to advance the search for new and better diagnostic tools and more effective treatments for drug resistant strains," Stehr said.