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Ancient Chinese Medicines have the Power to fight Tuberculosis (TB): New Study

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Medicines (representational image). Pixabay

December 24, 2016: Researchers have found that centuries-old herbal medicine, discovered by Chinese scientists to treat malaria, can aid in tuberculosis (TB) treatment and even slow drug resistance.

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One-third of the world’s population is infected with TB, which killed 1.8 million people in 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) — the TB-causing bacteria — needs oxygen to thrive in the body and the immune system starves this bacterium of oxygen to control the infection.

The study found that artemisinin — the ancient remedy — stopped the ability Mtb to become dormant — a stage of the disease that often makes the use of antibiotics ineffective.

“When TB bacteria are dormant, they become highly tolerant to antibiotics. Blocking dormancy makes the TB bacteria more sensitive to these drugs and could shorten treatment times,” said Robert Abramovitch, Assistant Professor at Michigan State University in the US.

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Artemisinin attacks a molecule called heme, which is found in the Mtb oxygen sensor.

By disrupting this sensor and essentially turning it off, the medicine stopped the disease’s ability to sense how much oxygen it was getting, the researchers said.

“When the Mtb is starved of oxygen, it goes into a dormant state, which protects it from the stress of low-oxygen environments. If Mtb can’t sense low oxygen, then it can’t become dormant and will die,” Abramovitch said.

TB takes up to six months to treat and is one of the main reasons the disease is so difficult to control, the researchers said.

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They also said that the finding could be key to shortening the course of therapy because it can clear out the dormant, hard-to-kill bacteria.

The paper was published in the journal Nature Chemical Biology. (IANS)

Next Story

Super Drug to Take on Stubborn Tuberculosis in Uttar Pradesh, India

Another pill with bedaquiline has already been introduced in the state to fight excessively drug resistant (XDR) TB

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Drug, Tuberculosis, Uttar Pradesh
The new anti-TB drug, with delamanid as active substance, is currently administered to patients. Pixabay

Uttar Pradesh may soon get a new drug to fight the multi-drug resistant (MDR) tuberculosis (TB).

The new anti-TB drug, with delamanid as active substance, is currently administered to patients — primarily children in the age group of six to 17 years — in a few southern states of India and is yet to be introduced in Uttar Pradesh, which reported 4.22 lakh patients in 2018.

According to the State TB officer Santosh Gupta, “Delamanid would be introduced in UP in the third quarter of the year, as per the central guidelines.”

“We are awaiting procurement of the drug from the union government. Four of our officers have been trained for implementation of it, which will be given to children (9-17 years) with MDR-TB,” the doctor added.

Drug, Tuberculosis, Uttar Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh may soon get a new drug to fight the multi-drug resistant (MDR) tuberculosis (TB). Pixabay

Gupta said that another pill with bedaquiline has already been introduced in the state to fight excessively drug resistant (XDR) TB and for which 18 nodal drug resistance centres have been set up.

“An XDR-TB patient is resistant to all anti-TB drugs, including even the stronger combinations of medicines. It is an advanced form of MDR-TB. Bedaquiline, which is WHO recommended, has been made available to patients for free and is found to be effective,” said Gupta and added that patients were being kept under close observation for side effects.

He further laid emphasis on the early detection of TB cases.

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Meanwhile, chairman of the UP state task force for TB control and head of KGMU’s respiratory medicine department, Professor Suryakant said: “Around 28 lakh TB patients are recorded in India. If nutrition is not received in the form of lentils/pulses, fruits and vegetables in diet, a person is more susceptible to the TB bacteria.” (IANS)