Breakthrough treatment for drug-resistant TB

Researchers are working on a simpler treatment for deadly drug-resistant tuberculosis

A simpler, more effective treatment for drug-resistant tuberculosis has been discovered. The treatment is said to work for those who are suffering from a strain of the illness that’s resistant to two first-line drugs commonly used to treat TB and at least two second-line drugs.

Nix-TB was tested on 34 people in South Africa. The drug consists of three antibiotics that have never been combined before to treat the disease: bedaquiline, pretomanid and linezolid, according to online publication Science.

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A report released in 2015 by the World Health Organisation (WHO) noted that there were about 480 000 new cases of multi-drug-resistant (MDR) TB and that 7 234 people were treated for extreme drug-resistance TB (XDR-TB).

Science says traditional treatment of  XDR-TB can take up to two-and-a-half years, often requires hospitalisation and includes painful injec­tions.

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The 34 people given the new treatment were clear within six months. “The TB bacillus could not be cultured from anyone’s sputum, a sign that they had cleared the infection,” says Science.

South Africa has a higher-than-average incidence of TB occurrence. The South African National Tuberculosis Association says the country has the third highest rate if TB infection, after China and India.

XDR-TB is also on the increase in South Africa, according to WHO, which also says that people who are living with HIV are at greater risk.

“In places where XDR-TB strains circulate more frequently, people with HIV are more likely to be infected with XDR-TB than elsewhere.”

Experts are unsure when the new treatment will be available as one of the antibiotics, pretomanid, still needs to be approved.

Source: Science