THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2016

MDR tuberculosis breakthrough lead to new treatments

Researchers in the U.S. and India recently made a discovery that could give rise to new drugs to treat multi-drug-resistant (MDR) strains of tuberculosis, which the World Health Organization has declared a global health emergency.

The findings, which were reported in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, showed a new drug compound-24-desmethylrifampicin-is much more effective at killing MDR bacteria that cause tuberculosis than rifampicin, one of several commonly used drugs in "drug cocktails" aimed at treating tuberculosis, Science Daily reports.

Rifampicin and other components of the common cocktail for tuberculosis treatment are essential to treating the condition, which usually takes approximately six months to cure.

MDR and extensively drug-resistant (XDR) forms of tuberculosis, however, have become resistant to rifampicin, leading WHO to declare it a global health crisis in 1993. More than one million people around the world die from tuberculosis each year, making it the second most common cause of death by infectious disease, according to Science Daily.

Though six months is the general duration of a rifampicin regimen, drug-resistant strains can take 18 months to several years to treat with antibiotics that are not as effective and are more damaging.

"We believe these findings are an important new avenue toward treatment of multi-drug-resistant TB," Taifo Mahmud, a professor in the College of Pharmacy at Oregon State University and a corresponding author on the new publication, said, according to Science Daily. "Rifampicin is the most effective drug against tuberculosis, and it's very difficult to achieve a cure without it. The approach we're using should be able to create one or more analogs that could help take the place of rifampicin in TB therapy."

The research was conducted by scientists from India's University of Delhi and Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, with support from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust and Medical Research Foundation of Oregon.