April 3, 2009

New TB Antibiotic Is Proving Worthy Of A Fight

According to a study reported in The Lancet on Saturday, a new antibiotic has passed a key phase in a test of drugs aimed at shortening the time to cure tuberculosis, offering a potential boon in the fight against TB.

The standard treatment for TB takes up to six months, which is a time that is so long that many patients abandon therapy because they believe to be cured when the symptoms are no longer felt.

This results in the patients not completely being cleared of the germ that causes TB, and it also enables the microbe to mutate into a drug-resistant form or be passed on to other individuals.

Doctors tested a new antibiotic called moxifloxacin in conjunction with the standard medications among a group of 170 patients in Brazil, in a quest for a fast-track cure.

There was 80 percent that tested negative for the TB bacterium in their sputum by the end of the eighth week among those who had moxifloxacin added to their regime.  The success rate was only 63 percent in the non-moxifloxacin group.

The trial was a "Phase II study" in the long and demanding three-phase process of testing new drugs for safety and effectiveness.

According to the World Health Organization, there were 9.27 million people that contracted TB in 2007, an increase of about 30,000 over the previous year mainly in line with population growth.

Also included were about 1.4 million people who were coinfected with HIV/AIDS.  There are half a million people believed to have strains of TB that are resistant to frontline drugs.


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