Drug shows promise against XDR-TB

A new study has proved a powerful antibiotic to be effective against extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis.

U.S. government and South Korean researchers recently announced that Pfizer's antibiotic linezolid, or Zyvox, was successfully tested in XDR-TB patients whose illness proved resistant to at least four of the drugs most commonly used to treat it, according to Reuters.

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, was the first scientifically rigorous clinical trial of the drug. It was led by Clifton Barry of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and Sang-Nae Cho, a professor of infectious diseases at Yonsei University, South Korea.

"The data that were reported are rather impressive," Dr. Anthony Fauci, NIAID's director said, Reuters reports.

The news, however, was not entirely good. Eighty-two of the patients involved in the study experienced some form of side effect, including a decrease in the ability of bone marrow to produce blood cells and damage to the optic and peripheral lobe.

"That is the bad news," Fauci said, according to Reuters. "The somewhat encouraging news is that despite the toxicity, when the drug dose was decreased or was temporarily discontinued, the toxic side effects diminished dramatically. To have a study that has a positive result, despite the fact that there are caveats, is an important advance in the right direction."