Marine molecule may be major development in TB treatment

A molecule extracted from a marine microorganism of the coast of Rameshwaram, India, may become a major development in the treatment of TB and HIV.

A group of scientists from the Tuberculosis Research Center - IIT-Madras and Periyar University claim to have extracted the molecule Transitmycin from the marine microorganism “Streptomyces sp,” Indian Express reports.

The microorganism was isolated from a soil sample collected from a coral reef off the coast of Rameshwaram. The pigmented and brominated antibiotic has been found to be active against both HIV and TB, researchers said.

“Transitmycin inhibited drug sensitive, multidrug resistant and XDR mycobacterium tuberculosis strains as well as bacterial pathogens,” Dr. Vanaja Kumar, the principal investigator and head of the department of bacteriology at the TRC, said, according to Indian Express.

The researchers also found that the molecule was active against latent bacilli and inhibited two widely prevalent clades of HIV-1, the subtypes B and C. The latter subtype is the most prevalent in India, parts of the African continent and is reportedly responsible for the worst epidemics and around half of all infections, Indian Express reports.

If the compound is verified to be effective against both mycobacterium and HIV, this will allow patients infected with both to be administered the dual-treatment simultaneously, which is not currently possible with current treatments. With preclinical research, including animal studies, needing to take place before human trials, the researchers said a treatment from the microorganism could be ready in 10 years if the plan fell into place.