July 3, 2009

Parkinson’s Drugs May Fight Drug Resilient Tuberculosis

Drugs used to care for Parkinson's disease might be a new way to halt the increase of drug-resistant forms of tuberculosis, U.S. researchers announced on Thursday.

They stated that both computer models and lab experiments found that the drugs tolcapone, or Tasmar, made by Valeant Pharmaceuticals, and entacapone, or Comtan, made by Novartis AG have the possibility to fight multiple-drug-resistant strains of TB.

Computer programs forecasted that the chemically comparable drugs should throw off the TB bacillus, and tests in labs using the drug Comtan established it, the researchers said.

1.8 million people die globally every year from tuberculosis and 2 billion people are infected, stated the World Health Organization.

Quite a few people unintentionally have dormant infections that can become active if their immune system becomes destabilized with other viruses, like HIV.

The WHO noted that of the 9 million new TB cases every year, 490,000 are multiple-drug resilient TB or MDR-TB and 40,000 are considerably drug resilient or XDR-TB.

"Given the continuing emergence of M. tuberculosis strains that are resistant to all existing, affordable drug treatments, the development of novel, effective and inexpensive drugs is an urgent priority," said Sarah Kinnings, a graduate student at the University of California, San Diego who led the study, to Reuters News.

Kinnings and his fellow researchers utilized computer models and conducted experiments to find established drugs that might treat resilient forms of TB.

They discovered that the active factor in both Comtan and Tasmar could also impede the multiple-drug defiant tuberculosis bacterium.

The drugs obstruct the brain chemical COMT, which prevents it from breaking down the Parkinson's drugs. Their molecular configuration also lets them impede a compound that TB bugs require to thicken their defensive cell wall.

Tasmar can harm the liver but Comtan does not and could be taken to battle TB, said Philip Bourne of the University of California, San Diego, who worked on the study.

"We have computational and experimental data to support this repositioning," Bourne said in a statement.

Internationally, drug-resistant tuberculosis has the highest rates ever seen, says the World Health Organization. They are specifically a threat in Russia and other former Soviet republics, India, China and South Africa.

The study is published in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS Computational Biology.


Image Caption: Photomicrograph of a sputum sample containing Mycobacterium tuberculosis. M. tuberculosis bacteria can attack any part of the body, but usually the lungs causing Tuberculosis. It is spread when infected individuals cough or sneeze, releasing microdroplets into the air that contain the bacteria, which others then inhale.Credit: Wikipedia


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University of California

journal PLoS Computational Biology

Valeant Pharmaceuticals