Linezolid, an antibiotic used to treat severe infections, is showing promise against extensively drug resistant tuberculosis, a deadly form of the bacterial disease that is resistant to at least four major TB drugs.
XDR-TB is currently being reported in close to 80 countries and can be deadly, particularly if a person is co-infected with HIV. The resistant form of TB has a very high mortality rate, Voice of America reports.
“That’s been a known problem for many years, primarily as a result of people who don’t take their drugs well,” Ray Chen, a staff clinician at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said, according to Voice of America. “And then the tuberculosis bug slowly develops resistance to the drugs that are used.”
Linezolid is a drug approved for the use of resistant bacteria. Research with the drug determined that when added to a drug regimen it could be effective against the resistant TB.
“We found that adding the linezolid had a significant effect and that most of the patients converted their sputum from showing tuberculosis to not having tuberculosis in the sputum by six months,” Chen said, according to Voice of America. “About 87 percent of the patients became negative for tuberculosis within six months. So it showed a very good response.”
The problem with the medication is that many of the 41 patients tested dealt with severe side effects. The side effects included nerve problems, eye issues and blood abnormalities.
Chen said that more studies are required to determine if the drugs can be used in large-scale combination with other treatments. Additionally, new antibiotics are coming on the market and could be tested on TB as well.