Vitamin D, commonly known as the “sunshine vitamin”, can combat tuberculosis (TB) bacteria found in the lungs of people with multi-drug resistant TB, according to latest research.
The study showed that when added to antibiotic treatment, vitamin D was found to treat TB specifically in patients with multi-drug resistant (MDR) TB.
The vitamin D supplementation was also found to be safe at the doses administered, with no links to serious adverse events, findings further revealed in the European Respiratory Journal.
“Multi-drug resistant TB is on the rise globally. It’s notoriously difficult to treat, and it carries a much worse prognosis than standard TB,” said Lead Researcher Adrian Martineau, Professor from Queen Mary University of London.
“Our study raises the possibility that vitamin D — which is very safe and inexpensive — could benefit this hard-to-treat group of patients by taking a novel approach to their treatment,” said Martineau.
The immune system could be given a boost by adding vitamin D to antibiotic treatment to help the body clear TB bugs, rather than relying on antibiotics on their own to kill the bacteria directly, the study suggested.
While vitamin D is best known for its effects on bone health, previous studies have shown its role in protecting against colds, flu, asthma attacks, and that it can also protect chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients from deadly lung attacks.
MDR TB is caused by bacteria that are resistant to treatment with at least two of the most powerful first-line anti-TB drugs, causing around 500,000 cases and 150,000 deaths per year worldwide, the study noted.
For the study, researchers included 1,850 patients who received antibiotic treatment. (IANS)
A newly approved three-drug treatment for tuberculosis will be available in 150 countries including India and South Africa, priced at $1,040 for a complete regimen, more than twice the cost proposed in the past by advocacy groups for other treatments.
The United Nations-backed Stop TB Partnership said on Monday that BPaL would be obtainable in eligible countries through the Global Drug Facility (GDF), a global provider of TB medicines created in 2001 to negotiate lower prices for treatments.
Tuberculosis was responsible for 1.5 million deaths in 2018.
BPaL is an oral treatment which promises a shorter, more convenient option to existing TB treatment options, which use a cocktail of antibiotic drugs over a period of up to two years.
The new cocktail, which will treat extensively drug-resistant strains of the illness, consists of drug developer TB Alliance’s newly-approved medicine pretomanid, in combination with linezolid and Johnson & Johnson’s bedaquiline.
Pretomanid, which will be available at $364 per treatment course, is only the third new medicine for drug-resistant tuberculosis to be approved in about 40 years, after J&J’s bedaquiline and Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co Ltd’s delamanid.
Advocacy groups have long criticized the cost for bedaquiline and delamanid. Not-for-profit Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has waged a running battle in public with J&J over its $400 price tag for a six-month course for bedaquiline.
MSF has argued that bedaquiline could be produced and sold at a profit for 25 cents per day, and that the price of treatments for drug-resistant TB should be no higher than $500 for a complete treatment course.
Leena Menghaney, the South-Asia head for MSF’s Access Campaign, said it was a cause of concern that pretomanid was priced just below the price of bedaquiline.
But Stop TB Partnership says costs of other regimens for extremely drug-resistant TB range from $2,000 to $8,000 — for courses of at least 20 months.
TB Alliance in April granted a license to U.S. drugmaker Mylan NV to manufacture and sell pretomanid as part of certain regimens in high-income markets, as well as a non-exclusive license for low-income and middle-income countries, where most tuberculosis cases occur.
Stop TB Partnership said it would start supplying the regimen following World Health Organization’s guidance on using the drug. Mylan, however, said it will also sell the drug directly to countries.
Prices in low-income countries would be in-line with the price offered through GDF, but would be decided on a case by case basis where the drug is not supplied through GDF, it said.
The drug will be available in bottles of 26 tablets, with a six-month treatment requiring seven bottles.