Triggering a chemical reaction in tuberculosis (TB) bacteria that leads to their self-destruction could be a novel basis for new drugs that tackle the disease. The scientists from the John Innes Centre in Norwich and the Albert Einstein University in New York believe this reaction could even be enhanced through diet to fight infection. TB is a respiratory disease that causes 2 million deaths globally each year. New drugs are needed due to increasing resistance to existing treatments. The researchers discovered an enzyme inside Mycobacterium tuberculosis that is necessary for a reaction that leads to the build-up of a sugar, called maltose 1-phospate, within cells. The accumulation of the sugar is toxic to the bacterium and sends a suicide signal to the cell. “This pathway has never previously been targeted by antimicrobials and offers a treatment option very different from antibiotics in use,” said Dr William Jacobs, from Albert Einstein University who conducted the research. Drugs that target this pathway are at a very early stage of development and it may be many years before they are available for use.