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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)

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Aspirin Can Help to Fight Against Tuberculosis, Says Study

India has the world's highest burden of TB, with 27 per cent of all global cases and over 30 per cent of all deaths worldwide

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Aspirin can prevent the tuberculosis (TB) bacterium from hijacking immune cells and allow the body to control infection better, say researchers who found that the common pain killer could treat the top infectious killer worldwide that claims around 4,400 lives a day.

Researchers from the Centenary Institute in Sydney found that the TB bacterium hijacks platelets from the body’s blood clotting system to weaken immune systems.

“Our study provides more crucial evidence that widely available aspirin could be used to treat patients with severe TB infection and save lives,” said lead author Elinor Hortle, research officer at Centenary.

Using the zebrafish model of TB, the team used fluorescent microscopy to observe the build-up of clots and activation of platelets around sites of infection.

They found that the platelets were being tricked by the infection into getting in the way of the body’s immune system.

Treating the infections with anti-platelet drugs, including the widely available aspirin, the researchers said, could prevent hijacking and allow the body to control infection better, according to the paper published in The Journal of Infectious Diseases.

Aspirin
Aspirin may lower risk of ovarian cancer as well. Pixabay

“This is the first time that platelets have been found to worsen TB in an animal model. It opens up the possibility that anti-platelet drugs could be used to help the immune system fight off drug resistant TB,” Hortle said.

According to the World Health Organization, TB is one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide.

In 2017, 10 million people fell ill with TB, and 1.6 million died from the disease (including 0.3 million among people with HIV).

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The infection also accounted for death in 230,000 children (including children with HIV associated TB) in 2017.

India has the world’s highest burden of TB, with 27 per cent of all global cases and over 30 per cent of all deaths worldwide. (IANS)