A study has revealed that that a new drug regimen for tuberculosis could reduce treatment time by up to 75% as well as cutting the risk for the development of drug-resistant Tuberculosis (TB) in patients.
According to the World Health Organisation, an estimated 10.4 million new cases of TB were reported in 2015 and of those 1.8 million died. There were also at least 480,000 new cases of multi-drug resistant TB in 2015. It comes as no surprise that TB is a global health problem as it overtakes HIV as the number one infectious cause of death worldwide.
The current method of treating TB is a four-drug regimen that was developed largely through trial and error with doctors testing drugs one at a time. The study carried out by researchers at University of California, Los Angeles, performed a large-scale systematic search for an optimal drug treatment using the Parabolic Response Surface Platform. This is a highly sensitive data analysis method that identifies which drug combinations work together better than how they work on their own. This is the first study of its kind to use this platform as a means of selecting more effective drug treatments for TB.
Professor Marcus Horwitz, who led the study, described how the mouse model used hopes to give promising results in humans, "Our regimen is much more potent than the standard regimen in a rigorous animal model. If our regimen proves as efficacious in humans as in animals, it will reduce the treatment time to cure TB by 75%, from 6-8 months to 1.5 - 2 months. Our regimens are more potent because they were selected on the basis of synergy among the drugs."
Professor Chih-Ming Ho, who also worked on the study explained that "Our Parabolic Response Surface (PRS) technology platform is able to identify the top most potent drug combinations from 1365 possible combinations in cell-line tests. These top selections outperform the standard regimen."
Independent expert, Dr. Patrick Phillips of the University College London, has worked in late-phase clinical trials in tuberculosis for over a decade and commented on the study, "It's an interesting mouse experiment and shows that two regimens have the potential for improving the treatment of TB. The results are consistent with other mouse studies. . . Further human studies are required to determine whether these regimens do allow for treatment shortening."
In the light of the increasing number of multi-drug resistant cases of TB, any progress in tackling the burden of TB is to be met with great anticipation and this novel platform provides the means of screening large numbers of drugs in a relatively short space of time in order to generate the most effective treatment.