July 6, 2009

Existing Drugs May Fight TB

Extreme drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) kills about two million people each year; a number researchers are trying to lower with new medicines for TB.

Currently prescribed to treat Parkinson's disease, entacapone and tolcapone may also be able to treat severe TB cases. The drugs currently used to treat TB are highly toxic and of a completely different chemical structure than the two new drugs.

 "Here we have drugs that are known to be safe with suitable binding properties which can be further optimized to treat a completely different condition," principle investigator Philip E. Bourne, PhD, was quoted as saying.

The researchers' methodology extends an approach called Selective Optimization of Side Activities (SOSA), which involves the use of old drugs for new pharmacological targets.  Using this method, scientists can derive a panel of new, active molecules from a single marketed drug that has already been shown to be safe in humans - reducing time and cost of drug discovery.

Although entacapone and tolcapone have shown to be active against TB, additional studies will be needed to convert it to a prescribed TB treatment.

SOURCE: Public Library of Science (PLoS) Computational Biology Journal, July 3, 2009