To commemorate World TB Day on Thursday 24 March, each day this week we will feature a different aspect of the fight against TB
According to the most recent estimates, TB killed 1.7 million people in 2009 (approximately a death every 20 seconds). Treatment for TB relies on drugs developed some 40 years ago. Unfortunately these drugs are not very good as they require long treatment regimes (6-9 months) and often they do not work due to the ability of the TB bug to develop resistance.
New drug discovery is one of the two TB projects which LSTM is involved with as part of the NIHR funded Biomedical Research Centre in Microbial Diseases at Liverpool. This project is partnering with industry and pooling drug development talent and techniques with the aim of developing a new drug that will be able to kill all TB strains, including those resistant to existing treatments. The project has identified a number of compounds which are being optimised to find the ones that are the safest and most effective, with the aim of beginning human trials within the next three years.
For those co-infected with HIV, interactions between their HIV and TB drugs can be hard to manage. When first-line treatment is poorly administered or fails, drug-resistance may develop making the disease much more expensive and difficult to treat. Patients with multi-drug resistant TB often need to take six drugs for up to two years and can expect only a 60% chance of cure.
Fortunately, recent advances in scientific understanding of tuberculosis have resulted in the discovery of many promising new compounds, including those being optimised in Liverpool, which could hold the key to better and shorter treatment for all forms of tuberculosis. Bringing such compounds to the clinic however will not be a simple task. How best to prove the effectiveness of drugs in early human clinical trials is still not known, while definitive Phase III trials typically need to recruit more than a thousand patients and take many years to complete. Dr Henry Mwandumba, Dr Gavin Laing and Dr Gerry Davies at LSTM are also attempting to identify better markers of the activity of anti-tuberculosis drugs and how to use them in innovative clinical trial designs. These new tools for drug development could be another important step towards finding better and shorter treatments for tuberculosis.
Thobeka Makhethi - My name is Thobeka Makhethi. Last year 2005 I coughed for more than two months and I lost weight. I went to the clinic and found I have TB. I sleep in hospital for ten months. After six months I find out I'm an MDR-TB (Multi-Drug Resistant Tuberculosis) and started MDR treatment. Now I'm seven months on MDR treatment. My child is Yandisa Makhethi, she's also involved on MDR treatment. She is one year and seven months old. The TB is caused by coldness of (the) place I'm living in. At home we are twelve (members) and the rest is not tested. But now the treatment is doing fine with me. Sometimes I just feel pains on my chest. The problems that I'm facing is a blocked throat. It makes it difficult to swallow in the right way. I also tested for HIV and I am positive. I started treatment last year 03:10:2005.