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A new substance may help fight tuberculosis: study

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A new substance may help fight tuberculosis: study
A new substance may help fight tuberculosis: study. wikimedia commons
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London, Dec 29, 2017: Researchers have discovered a substance that may help combat the bacterium that causes life-threatening tuberculosis (TB) infections.

The substance, called beta lactone EZ120, interferes with the formation of the bacterium’s mycomembrane.

As this membrane is known to hamper the effect of many medications, this new substance offers hope of fighting the bacteria that can develop resistance to the antimicrobial drugs.

It is effective even in low concentrations and when combined with known antibiotics their effectiveness is improved by up to 100-fold, the study said.

“Vancomycin, a common antibiotic, and EZ120 work together very well,” said lead researcher Stephan Sieber, Professor of Organic Chemistry at Technical University of Munich in Germany.

“When used together, the dose can be reduced over 100-fold,” Sieber said.

The mycomembrane of the tuberculosis pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis consists of a lipid double layer that encapsulates the cell wall, forming an exterior barrier.

The researchers found that the substance can inhibit the biosynthesis of the mycomembrane and kills mycobacteria effectively.

Using enzyme assays and mass spectroscopy investigations, Johannes Lehmann of Technical University of Munich demonstrated that the new inhibitor blocks especially the enzymes Pks13 and Ag85, which play a key role in the development of mycomembranes.

The scientists suspect that disrupting the mycomembrane enables antibiotics to enter the bacteria more easily.

“This is a new mode of action and might be a starting point for novel tuberculosis therapies,” Sieber said. (IANS)

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Tuberculosis To Stay on Top in The List of World’s Most Infectious Diseases: WHO

Treatment coverage, at 64 percent, also lags behind and must increase to at least 90 percent by 2025 to meet the targets of ending TB by 2030

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WHO, Tuberculosis
TB remains world's deadliest infectious disease: WHO.

Tuberculosis (TB) remains the world’s deadliest infectious disease although global efforts have averted an estimated 54 million tuberculosis (TB) deaths since 2000, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Tuesday.

WHO, in its latest 2018 Global TB Report, says countries are still not doing enough to end TB by 2030 and calls for an unprecedented mobilization of national and international commitments. It urges for decisive action from nearly 50 heads of state and government who are expected to gather next week for the first-ever UN High-level Meeting on TB, Xinhua news agency reported.

The report finds that overall, TB deaths have decreased over the past year, with an estimated 10 million people having developed TB and 1.6 million deaths, including among 300,000 HIV-positive people, in 2017. The number of new cases is falling by two percent per year.

However, underreporting and under-diagnosis of TB cases remains a major challenge. Of the 10 million people who fell ill with TB in 2017, only 6.4 million were officially recorded by national reporting systems, leaving 3.6 million people undiagnosed, or detected but not reported.

Ten countries accounted for 80 percent of this gap, according to the report, with India, Indonesia and Nigeria topping the list. Less than half of the estimated one million children with TB were reported in 2017, making it a much higher gap in detection than that in adults.

Treatment coverage, at 64 percent, also lags behind and must increase to at least 90 percent by 2025 to meet the targets of ending TB by 2030.

To urgently improve detection, diagnosis and treatment rates, the WHO and partners launched a new initiative in 2018 to set the target of providing quality care to 40 million people with TB from 2018 to 2022, while predicting that at least 30 million people should be able to access TB preventive treatment during the period.

The WHO strongly recommends preventive treatment for people living with HIV, and children under five years living in households with TB, and has issued related new guidance this year to facilitate greater access to preventive services for those who need it.

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Next week’s UN High-Level Meeting on TB is critical and the WHO, while calling for the health sector to address the risk factors and determinants of the disease, is particularly pushing for commitments at the level of heads of state to galvanize multi-sectoral action.

“We have never seen such high-level political attention and understanding of what the world needs to do to end TB and drug-resistant TB,” said WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“We must ensure that we hold our leaders accountable for the actions they promise to take. And we must hold ourselves accountable for keeping the pressure on.” (IANS)

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