SUNDAY, JUNE 24, 2018

Progress made on new TB drug

Scientists at the Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre and the Maurice Wilkins Centre for Molecular Biodiscovery have high hopes for a new tuberculosis drug called TBA-354 that they believe could advance to clinical trials in the U.S. in the near future.

The drug could prove to be a major breakthrough in the fight against tuberculosis. Experts in Auckland have worked with the TB Alliance and the University of Illinois at Chicago on the research, the New Zealand Herald reports.

The drug is reported to be better than PA-824, its counterpart, which has already proceeded to clinical trials and had promising results.

"This is the first new class of drugs to be developed for TB in nearly 50 years, and the first designed to work against the persistent form of the disease," Brian Palmer, an associate professor ay the ACSRC and Maurice Wilkins Centre, said, the New Zealand Herald reports. "Clinical results reported earlier this year suggest that PA-824, in combination with an existing TB drug, could treat some drug-resistant forms of TB in just four months in contrast to the 18 to 24 months required for current regimens.

Complete preclinical studies of TBA-354 should be finished by early next year, according to the TB Alliance. After that, the study will seek permission for human trials from the US Food and Drug Administration.

"New Zealand has an outstanding reputation in drug discovery and it's exciting to see the ACSRC's expertise in cancer drug development being used in the fight against one of the most devastating infectious diseases in the world," Professor Rod Dunbar, the director of the Maurice Wilkins Centre, said, according to the New Zealand Herald.

TB is second to HIV/AIDS as the greatest infectious killer worldwide, with most deaths occurring in low and middle-income countries.