Updated on 24 July 2012
The findings raise hope for a treatment breakthrough amid the concern over drug-resistant forms of TB
Singapore: A novel approach to discover the first new tuberculosis (TB) combination drug regimen cleared a major hurdle when phase II clinical trial results found it could kill more than 99 percent of patients' TB bacteria within two weeks and could be more effective than existing treatments, according to a study published in the Lancet. These results add to a growing body of evidence that the new regimen could reduce treatment by more than a year for some patients.
The findings from researchers and the non-profit TB Alliance raise hope for a treatment breakthrough amid the growing and dangerous epidemic of drug-resistant forms of TB that, in some cases, are becoming untreatable. The results, presented at the 2012 International AIDS Conference, also reveal progress in the pursuit of an antiretroviral-compatible TB treatment, which is critical to treating the millions of people with TB/HIV co-infection. Today, TB remains the largest killer of people with AIDS, but very often, TB and HIV treatments cannot be given together because of drug-drug interactions and side effects.
The clinical trial tested a combination of one completely novel drug candidate, a new TB drug candidate already approved to treat other infectious diseases, and one existing TB drug. These results, along with pre-clinical data, suggest that this novel combination could treat both drug-susceptible and some forms of drug-resistant TB in only four months. Currently, people with multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB) require 18 to 24 months of treatment. Even those with ordinary TB need six months of taking drugs every day.
"These findings confirm the promise of novel TB regimens to be shorter, simpler, safer, and, compared with today's MDR-TB drugs, much less expensive," said Dr Mel Spigelman, CEO and president of TB Alliance. "The next trial to advance this regimen is already underway. We now have real momentum toward bringing to market treatments that will ultimately help save millions of lives."
TB Alliance's push to test new drugs in combination has been done to produce a regimen that not only would be faster and easier for patients, but also would tackle two other challenges as a major step in stopping the spread of drug-resistant TB - the complexity and high cost of treatment. This promising regimen eliminates the use of injectables and projects to reduce the cost of MDR-TB therapy by as much as 90 percent.