NIAID-sponsored TB drug trials to begin in South Africa

A new clinical trial sponsored by the U.S. National Institutes of Health will analyze an investiga

tional drug's ability to fight drug-sensitive pulmonary tuberculosis.

The trial is being headed by scientists from the Tuberculosis Research Unit at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, but is to take place in Cape Town, South Africa. The trial will include individuals with HIV/TB.

The World Health Organization estimates that nearly nine million people were infected with TB in 2011. South Africa has the highest rate of TB in the world. Alone, it carries five percent of worldwide TB cases.

"New, simplified treatments that cure TB infection more quickly are desperately needed," NIAID Director Dr. Anthony S. Fauci said. "It has been nearly 50 years since a new drug specifically developed for TB was licensed. This is a relatively small study, but we hope it yields insights into whether this investigational drug shows promise in people who are newly diagnosed with TB, as laboratory and earlier clinical safety trials indicate it might."

The new drug, which was developed by AstraZeneca, has already proven effective in laboratory studies against a wide range of drug-sensitive and drug-resistant strains of Mycobaterium tuberculosis, the bacterium that causes the highly contagious infection.

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