Wednesday May 23, 2018

Several compounds show successful results against MDR-TB

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Hyderabad: If the results obtained at the laboratory remain true in the clinical trials too, then it can be said that we have found the cure to overcome the problem of multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB) in the coming years.

Scientists at the National Mol Bank at the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, Hyderabad have screened thousands of natural and synthetic compounds. They have identified compounds active at the laboratory level for asthma, cancers, TB and central nervous system disorders. The compound is said to be highly automated with storage and retrieval facility of 1.6 million samples. It has 30,000 pure compounds as of now.

The scientists have screened around 10,000 compounds for TB and identified 281 hits, as part of intensifying drug discovery efforts. Out of them, 11 compounds which are unrelated to the existing anti-TB drugs showed promising results. The experiments were done at the cellular level on the MDR-TB bacteria. Dr P Srihari, Principal Scientist of IICT said, “We will make several analogues to these compounds and look at the pathway they are following for achieving inhibitory activity.”

Dr Prarthama Mainkar, Scientist at IICT, said: “We know it’s inhibiting Mycobacterium tuberculosis. We want to find out the pathway. Then we can deliver the drug.” After filtering down and coming to the right compound, it would undergo human trials which would take around two to three years to complete, she added. In the tests conducted on mice’s cancer cell lines, three compounds to treat leukaemia acted effectively. Scientists further plan to undertake the same studies in dogs and conduct pre-clinical trials.

In regard to renal cancer, promising results were noticed. Dr Prathhama said, “We plan to go for clinical trials in collaboration with another institution in the next two years.”

In experiments conducted in zebra fish and mice models in the laboratory, another set of compounds proved useful in strengthening neurons. Moreover, the compounds underwent the crucial blood-brain barrier successfully. Further studies are also being carried out in collaboration with the University of Texas and ETH, Zurich. These compounds could eventually help in developing drugs for the treatment of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Two other compounds were patented by IICT and Indian Institute of Chemical Biology, which proved to be effective against asthma. The two institutions conducted the collaborative studies. (picture courtesy: http://newsatjama.jama.com/)

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How a phone call is saving lives of TB patients in India

The traditional medication adherence programme "Directly Observed Treatment" or "DOTS" involved the patients going to a healthcare centre where they ingest the medication in front of a health worker

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A phone call is saving patients from TB. IANS
A phone call is saving patients from TB. IANS
  • Can a phone call save lives?
  • A project called 99DOTS helps patients with Tuberculosis in India get medication
  • TB is one of the top 10 causes of deaths globally

In a world flooded with technological advancements, can a phone call save lives? This is happening as part of a project developed by software giant Microsoft in India.

The project, named “99DOTS”, which began in 2013 helps patients with Tuberculosis in India get medication adherence and monitoring via missed calls and SMSes.

From a modest pilot involving just 20 patients in early 2014, 99DOTS has enrolled over 93,000 patients in just four years, with 41,000 patients currently under treatment.

Rohingya Children
Tuberculosis causes lots of death every year. VOA

“99DOTS is a great example of such a project, where we’ve invented a very simple but unusually effective technology to solve a global health problem. And we are making this technology openly available to the global health community,” Sriram Rajamani, Managing Director, Microsoft Research India, said in a statement.

TB is one of the top 10 causes of deaths globally, with 10.4 million people falling ill with the disease and 1.7 million related deaths reported in 2016 alone. India leads the count in TB chart even though free and effective medications are available, according to the World Health Organisation.

Also Read: A new substance may help fight tuberculosis: study

“One of the biggest barriers to recovery from TB is medication adherence,” Bill Thies, senior Researcher at the Microsoft Researcher India, said in a statement.

“Patients have to take daily drugs for a full six months or else they do not fully recover, and are at risk of developing drug resistance.” However, “once patients start feeling better after a few weeks, it becomes very difficult to convince them to take toxic drugs for another five months – especially if patients have little or no understanding of germs and antibiotic resistance”, Thies rued.

This is where “99DOTS” project plays a significant role. In the project, each anti-TB blister pack is wrapped in a custom envelope, which hides a phone number behind the medication. When a patient dispenses his or her pills, they can see these hidden numbers. After taking daily medication, patients make a free call to the number.

A new substance may help fight tuberculosis: study
This helpline help patients get medication on time. Wikimedia Commons

The combination of the call and patient’s caller ID yields high confidence that the dose was “in-hand” and they took it, Thies said. The team also developed an SMS reminder system for patients. Missed doses trigger SMS notifications to care providers, who follow up with personal or phone-based counselling. The traditional medication adherence programme “Directly Observed Treatment” or “DOTS” involved the patients going to a healthcare centre where they ingest the medication in front of a health worker.

“99DOTS gives the patients the freedom and ownership of their treatment. They are able to take the medication wherever they are. It also provides them the privacy of not having to visit a health centre,” explained Andrew Cross who was earlier Programme Manager at Microsoft Research and teamed up with Thies to build up 99DOTS. IANS