Study indicates new strategy to treat tuberculosis

New strategy to treat tuberculosis
New strategy to treat tuberculosis

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine said recently they created a new treatment strategy using lower doses of a toxic tuberculosis drug without losing its efficacy.

Tuberculosis has proved to be resistant against multiple drugs. Current therapies effectively treat the illness, but patients experience serious side effects.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine’s Center for Tuberculosis Research tested their theory that lower doses of the toxic bedaquiline tuberculosis treatment combined with doses of verapamil (typically used for heart conditions) treat tuberculosis just as effectively as the larger doses of the toxic drug.

"Using a mouse model of tuberculosis, we have shown lower doses of bedaquiline together with verapamil have the same antibacterial effect as the higher toxic doses," Johns Hopkins Research Fellow Shashank Gupta said. "A lower dose of bedaquiline will cause no or less severe side effects."

Additionally, the study showed that combining the two drugs may shorten the amount of time patients need to heal from tuberculosis. The new strategy may also decrease the negative side effects from the bedaquiline treatments as well as increase the overall positive outcomes for patients.

Bedaquiline inhibits the enzyme that is essential for tuberculosis replication. But bedaquiline also causes serious side effects in patients’ livers and hearts.

The study showed that reducing the bedaquiline dosage does not change its efficacy while potentially decreasing its harmful side effects. The verapamil medication enhanced the efficacy of the bedaquiline.

The researchers plan to use this information to begin human trials.

The findings will be officially published in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy in January 2014.