Tailored antibiotic courses could better treat TB, researcher says

Tawanda Gumbo, a University of Texas Southwestern Medical School physician and researcher, aims to change the damage done by tuberculosis by tailoring antibiotic courses to individual patients.

Although antibiotics have been around for more than 50 years, TB remains a major killer worldwide. In 2009, 1.7 million people succumbed to the disease, mostly in the world’s poorest places, according to

Gumbo has spent the better part of the last decade testing the effects of common TB drugs in test tubes and in animals in a concentrated effort to find more effective doses. He uses mathematical simulations he has borrowed from an engineering background to estimate how weight, gender and genetic variations can change optimal doses.

"If you give the same dose to 100 children, you get 100 different pictures," Gumbo said, according to "Given all of this variability, how should I dose different children?"

Gumbo intends to test his theories on TB infected children in South Africa in clinical trials. He hopes that by individually tailoring dosing he can shorten the typically six month treatment regimen and slow the spread of drug-resistant bacterium, reports.

The prevalence of drug-resistant bacterium is at its higher rate ever, according to WHO.