WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2016

New drug combinations may expedite TB treatments

The new combination, which implements feedback system control, may also help to fight drug-resistant TB infections. | File photo

Scientists from Shanghai Jiano Tong University and UCLA have created a novel combination of drugs that could shorten the amount of time that tuberculosis patients undergo treatment.

Combination therapy units use several different drugs to create a clinical standard that treatments multiple major illnesses. Unfortunately, there are billions of possible combinations involving different drugs and levels of doses.

Scientists have used a specific approach -- the feedback system control from UCLA -- to evaluate the cells that have TB infections. They used this to combine 14 TB drugs and five different levels of doses. This created 6 billion possible treatments that were then developed into promising combination treatments to eliminate TB infections much more quickly that traditional methods.

"Designing a drug combination with optimized drug-dose ratios has, until now, been virtually impossible," Chih-Ming Ho, the study's principal investigator and a professor at UCLA's Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, said. "Feedback system control technology demonstrated it can pinpoint these best possible ratios for a wide spectrum of diseases."

The new combination, which implements feedback system control, may also help to fight drug-resistant TB infections. This would be a significant step forward in the ongoing battle against these infections.

"If our findings are confirmed in human studies, the new drug regimens that we have identified should dramatically shorten the time needed to treat tuberculosis," Marcus Horwitz, a senior author on the research and a distinguished professor of medicine and microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics at UCLA's Geffen School of Medicine, said. "This will increase the likelihood of successful treatment and decrease the likelihood of patients developing drug-resistant tuberculosis. A highly successful and rapid treatment may hasten the eventual eradication of tuberculosis."

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