New method of detecting TB treatment efficacy announced

Researchers at Colorado State University announced this week that they have received federal funding to measure molecules in urine to show within days instead of months if tuberculosis treatments are working on patients.

John Belisle, principal investigator for the grant, said that current TB treatments and clinical trials include three to four antibiotics to be taken for six months. Doctors in the past have had no way to know if the treatments were working until around two months into the treatment. The CSU tests, however, show drug effectiveness after two weeks.

Belisle said that the current test could potentially save precious time spent treating a tuberculosis patient with antibacterial combinations that aren’t effective against the strain of TB they actually have.

“We have identified a series of metabolites in the urine of tuberculosis patients that disappear or decrease in abundance when these individuals properly respond to anti-tuberculosis treatment,” Belisle said. “At this time, the earliest measure available to doctors to assess whether or not a drug is working during a clinical trial is through tests two months into a treatment.”

The college received nearly $500,000 from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to continue studying the urine test so it can be used in clinical trials for new tuberculosis treatments. He said the funds will also help provide a test that can be used predict whether or not patients will redevelop tuberculosis after the treatment is completed.

According to WHO statistics, approximately 9 million people are infected with tuberculosis each year and 2 million die. Of the 9 million new cases each year, close to half a million are resistant to multiple drugs that once effectively treated the disease.