Friday November 16, 2018

Now Comes a Non-Antibiotic Drug to Treat Tuberculosis

The researchers hope for clinical trials in humans up in four years

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Tuberculosis
Novel drug may offer treatment for TB. Pixabay
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In a first, British scientists have developed a non-antibiotic drug that can one day successfully treat tuberculosis (TB) in humans.

The drug, developed by the University of Manchester, works by targeting Mycobacterium tuberculosis’ (Mtb) defences rather than the bacteria itself. It can also take out its increasingly commonly antibiotic resistant strains.

In the study, published in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, animals with acute and chronic TB infection were treated with the compound.

The findings showed that the compound does not kill the bacteria directly, but results in a significant reduction in the bacterial burden.

“For more than 60 years, the only weapon doctors have been able to use against TB is antibiotics. But resistance is becoming an increasingly worrying problem and the prolonged treatment is difficult and distressing for patients,” said Lydia Tabernero, Professor from the varsity.

“But by disabling this clandestine bacteria’s defences we’re thrilled to find a way that enhances the chances of the body’s immune system to do its job, and thus eliminate the pathogen,” Tabernero said.

Tuberculosis
Representational image. IANS

Mtb secretes molecules called Virulence Factors — the cell’s secret weapon — which block out the immune response to the infection, making it difficult to treat.

The team identified one Virulence Factor called MptpB as a suitable target, which when blocked allows white blood cells to kill Mtb in a more efficient way.

“The great thing about MptpB is that there’s nothing similar in humans – so our compound which blocks it is not toxic to the human cells,” Tabernero said.

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“Because the bacteria hasn’t been threatened directly, it is less likely to develop resistance against this new agent, and this will be a major advantage over current antibiotics, for which bacteria had already become resistant,” he explained.

The researchers hope for clinical trials in humans up in four years. (IANS)

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Tuberculosis A Vicious Epidemic: Deputy UN Chief

The WHO released its annual TB report. It found cases in all countries and among all age groups.

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A relative adjusts the oxygen mask of a tuberculosis patient at a TB hospital on World Tuberculosis Day in Hyderabad, India. VOA

Tuberculosis (TB) is a vicious epidemic that is drastically underfunded. That was the takeaway message from the first high-level meeting focused on the infectious disease at the U.N. General Assembly in New York.

Amina Mohammad, U.N. deputy secretary-general, said the disease is fueled by poverty, inequality, migration and conflict, and that an additional $13 billion per year is needed to get the disease under control.

Last year, tuberculosis killed more people than any other communicable disease — more than 1.3 million men, women and children.

The World Health Organization estimates that the 10 million people who become newly infected each year live mostly in poor countries with limited access to health care.

TB
The Bacteria that causes Tuberculosis

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the WHO, told the assembly that partnership is vital to end the disease. He said the WHO is committed to working with every country, partner and community to get the job done.

The WHO plans to lead U.N. efforts to support governments and other partners in order to drive a faster response to TB.

Most people can be cured with a six-month treatment program. But as world leaders told the assembly, medication is expensive, and the stigma associated with TB interferes with getting people screened and treated.

Nandita Venkatesan, a young woman from India, told the assembly about the toll the disease has taken on her life. She got TB more than once, including a drug-resistant variety. She said it robbed her of eight years of her life while she was being treated. One of the medications she took to help cure TB robbed her of her hearing.

TB
Amina Mohammad, U.N. deputy secretary-general, said the disease is fueled by poverty, inequality, migration and conflict, Pixabay

Venkatesan said getting cured involved hospital stays, six surgeries and negative reactions to at least one drug used to cure her.

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Just days before the high-level meeting, the WHO released its annual TB report. It found cases in all countries and among all age groups. It also found that two-thirds of the cases were in eight countries — India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, China, Indonesia, the Philippines, South Africa and Nigeria.

The meeting ended with the adoption of a declaration intended to strengthen action and investments for ending TB and saving millions of lives. (VOA)