June 4, 2009
A Johnson & Johnson-run study found that its experimental drug TMC207 could make conventional tuberculosis treatment five times more effective against multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB) because it cleared traces of the TB bacteria in the sputum of 48 percent of study volunteers after eight weeks, Reuters reports (Emery, Reuters, 6/3). The results were published on Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.
TMC207 was tested in a Phase 2 trial of 47 South African patients with newly diagnosed MDR-TB, the Dow Jones Newswires/Wall Street Journal reports. "About half received TMC207 and the rest received a fake drug for about eight weeks; all patients took a standard regimen of five existing TB drugs. A higher proportion of patients who received TMC207 tested negative for TB in lung-fluid cultures at eight weeks than the placebo, 48 percent versus 9 percent," the Dow Jones Newswires/Wall Street Journal reports (Loftus, Dow Jones Newswires/Wall Street Journal, 6/3).
According to Reuters, TMC207 is "being billed as the first new TB drug in 40 years." David McNeeley of Tibotec Inc., the subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson that developed the drug, said that TMC207 differs from other TB drugs because it "starves" the bacteria. "It's like cutting off your food supply," he said (Reuters, 6/3).
NEJM published a second study that "describes an international effort to detect" TB in immigrants and refugees that come to the U.S., HealthDay News/Forbes reports. "The TB rate in [foreign-born individuals] is 9.8 times higher than among U.S.-born individuals -- 20.6 cases per 100,000 people versus 2.1 per 100,000 people for the native-born. Nearly 58 percent of the new TB cases in the United States in 2007 were diagnosed in the foreign-born group," according to HealthDay News/Forbes (HealthDay News/Forbes, 6/3).
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