Two Studies Show Potential for Treating Drug-Resistant TB

mouse-small1Tuberculosis, or TB, is one of the world’s most widespread lethal diseases, killing someone every 20 seconds. An estimated one-third of the world’s population is infected with tuberculosis. Current medications for TB must be taken for six months, but many patients stop before they’ve completed the full course, which has caused drug-resistant strains of TB to develop in recent years. However, two new studies are showing promise in treating this highly infectious disease.

According to Science Daily, the Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University found that a combination of two FDA-approved antibiotics showed potential for treating drug-resistant TB. One of the drugs, clavulanate, inhibits a bacterial enzyme that normally protects TB bacteria from the other antibiotic (meropenem). Clinical trials of the combined treatment are scheduled to take place later this year in South Africa and South Korea.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports that a new drug has performed well in TB-infected mice. The drug, discovered by the A.N. Bakh Institute of Biochemistry in Moscow (with involvement from British company AstraZeneca), inhibits an enzyme that helps form a protective coating around the bacterium that causes TB. Without this coating, the bacterium dies. In mice, the drug reduced the bacterial count tenfold in their lungs, and 100-fold in their spleens. The tests need to undergo safety studies before they can be tested on humans, but the scientists behind the drug are excited about its potential.

Some companies developing products to detect and fight TB include:

Chembio Diagnostics

Nutra Pharma

Hollis-Eden Pharmaceuticals

Intercell AG

National Jewish Medical and Research Center

Immtech International

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