New anti-tuberculosis drug may be found in local pharmacies

A new anti-tuberculosis drug may be found in a common over-the-counter antacid. | Courtesy of
Scientists from the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland recently found that Prevacid, an over-the-counter antacid lansoprazole, may be effective as an anti-tuberculosis (TB) drug. 

TB is a worldwide pandemic, outnumbered only by AIDS as the world’s greatest single-agent killer. Mycobacterium TB killed 1.5 million people and infected approximately 9 million people with new infections in 2013 alone, according to Science Daily.

With new TB drugs taking more than 10 years to be approved for human use, the researchers at EPFL set out to quickly test a number of existing drugs to see if any of them were viable candidates to combat TB. Using cultured lung cells that had been infected with M. tuberculosis, the scientists used robotized "high-throughput screens" to quickly screen a large panel of already approved drugs.

They found that lansoprazole, a proton-pump inhibitor, was effective in combating M. tuberculosis when the bacterium grows inside cells. 

"Proton-pump inhibitors are both safe and widely sold around the world," Stewart Cole, who owned the laboratory, said. "Being highly active against drug-resistant strains of M. tuberculosis, this novel class of drugs provides us with an excellent opportunity to treat tuberculosis."

Additional details are available in Nature Communications.