Medical News

New Tuberculosis Drug Shows Early Promise

March 23, 2009

A report published Thursday on the Web site of the journal Science gives encouraging results from a mouse study of a potential new TB drug.

The drug, BTZ043, was discovered at the A.N. Bakh Institute of Biochemistry in Moscow. It works by inhibiting an enzyme that helps form the thick coating that protects Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and without which the bacterium dies.

In the mouse tests, the drug reduced the TB bacterial count in the lungs 10-fold and in the spleen 100-fold. It appears more potent than the existing TB drug ethambutol, and the results suggest it could work against drug-resistant strains of TB.

The European Union funded the research through the group Medicines for Tuberculosis.

Scientists are anxious to add medications to their arsenal of TB drugs, most of which are 40 years old and must be taken for months. Many patients stop taking the drugs before they are fully cured, which leads to the development of drug-resistant TB.

Vadim Makarov, who heads the Moscow lab, said he hopes that when the drug advances to human trials these will take place in Russia, where drug-resistant TB is a growing problem.

Drug maker AstraZeneca, which maintains a TB research center in India, took part in the experiments. Balganesh Tanjore, chief of research and development at the Indian lab, said the results constitute one of the most exciting advancements against TB in the past five years, though he noted BTZ043 must pass safety studies before human trials can proceed.

The report, "Benzothiazinones Kill Mycobacterium tuberculosis by Blocking Arabinan Synthesis," was published in Science (2009;doi:10.1126/science.1171583).

Back to other news for March 2009

Adapted from:
Wall Street Journal

This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.


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