March 25, 2023 by ISG faculty, Bharat Venkat
Since the time of the Greek physician Galen, knowing what causes a disease has been taken to be a critical step toward finding its cure (an idea we still hold dear in our time of mysterious syndromes and phantom pains). But a cure that specifically targeted the rod-shaped bacterium that causes tuberculosis was slow to come.
Despite advances in chemotherapy, the global treatment of tuberculosis remains on shaky ground. Antibiotics have never been able to cure everyone suffering from tuberculosis, and even someone who has been declared cured might not remain cured forever. At the end of 2011, reports began to pour out of Mumbai of patients suffering from “totally drug-resistant tuberculosis,” unresponsive to all conventional therapies. Was this, some wondered, the beginning of an India after antibiotics?