New TB drug trial enrolls first patient

Tuberculosis

The first patient was recently enrolled in a major drug trial to be held in South Africa that will test the safety and effectiveness of a new treatment for tuberculosis.

The phase IIa trial for AZD5847 is being conducted by Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and the global biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca. The trial includes patients with TB and HIV co-infection.

The U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which is part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, is sponsoring the trial, which is taking place in Cape Town with the assistance of TASK Applied Science, a South African clinical research group that specializes in TB.

TB is the cause of nearly 1.4 million deaths every year and is the leading infectious cause of death among those with HIV/AIDS. The World Health Organization estimates 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 medications are greatly needed to improve and shorten the treatment of TB in high-burden countries,” Dr. John L. Johnson, a professor of medicine at Case Western, said. “This trial is the first step in testing this new potential drug in humans with active TB.”

AZD5847 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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