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Researchers Uncover Potential Novel Treatment For Drug-Resistant TB

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Lisa Winter

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1101 Researchers Uncover Potential Novel Treatment For Drug-Resistant TB
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Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease that globally affects 9 million people per year, and ultimately kills 1.5 million of them. This problem is compounded by some strains of Mycobacterium tuberculosis that are resistant to isoniazid and rifampicin, two very potent TB treatments. A new paper published in Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry Letters describes the discovery of a molecule that could possibly be developed to fight TB in the future.

"Multi-drug resistant TB is spreading rapidly in many parts of the world," lead author Vasu Nair of University of Georgia, Athens said in a press release. "There is a tremendous need for new therapies, and we think our laboratory has developed a strong candidate that disrupts fundamental steps in the bacterium's reproduction process.”


Nair’s team blended magnesium and amino acids together, creating a molecule that works by targeting enzymes that are crucial for the bacterium’s ability to transcribe genetic information. By inhibiting this process, the bacterium is not able to produce the necessary proteins it needs in order to survive or reproduce. Happily, this molecule is able to target the bacteria while leaving other healthy cells alone.

"The compound we developed strongly inhibits the growth of the bacterium and renders it incapable of reproducing and spreading infection," Nair explained. "More importantly, the compound shows very low levels of cytotoxicity, which means that it is not harmful to the body.”

In addition to the molecule’s ability to affect the bacteria and cause very few harmful effects to the rest of the body, it does not hang around inside the body for a long time where it might cause other problems. After the drug has been administered, it begins to clear out of the body in fairly short order as if it were any other waste product that needed to be excreted. Nair’s team performed extensive tests in order to determine how long the drug would remain in the patient’s system.

"All our tests were very favorable," Nair continued. "The half-life is a little over 14 hours, and all traces of the drug are expected to be cleared through normal bodily functions.”


In addition to the drug’s efficacy against TB, it was also discovered that the molecule developed by Nair’s team was shown to have anti-HIV traits as well. This could possibly mean that in the future, one drug could be used to treat both diseases. Additionally, TB is the number one killer of HIV-positive individuals around the globe, and a potential drug that carries a one-two punch could make a dramatic difference to the 35 million people who have HIV.

"This discovery of dual activity against both retroviruses and drug-resistant gram-positive bacteria is unique and opens a new chapter in drug discovery in this area," Nair concluded.

The researchers are looking for corporate partners who will help develop the drug under a humanitarian license, so that when it is approved, it can be obtained for a low price.

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