August 25, 2008

Experts Find Possible TB Treatment in Vigorous Therapy

Aggressive treatment involving a combination of drugs may be the cure for extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis, researchers report.

Writing in The Lancet, researchers found that despite fears of being untreatable, TB could be cured with a combination of at least five drugs.

Multi-drug resistant (MDR) TB is resistant to the most commonly used treatments isoniazid and rifampin.

However, these treatments are ineffective when used to battle extremely resistant (XDR) TB.

The recent study consisted of 600 patients in Russia with resistant TB, almost fiver percent of whom had XDR-TB, researchers said.
In hopes of finding the curing combination, participants were each given a specifically designed treatment program based on which strain they had.

Almost half of XDR-TB patients and 67 percent of MDR-TB patients had treatment cure or completion.

"Aggressive management of this infectious disease is feasible and can prevent high mortality rates and further transmission of drug-resistant strains of TB," said lead athor Dr. Salmaan Keshavjee, from Harvard Medical School.

Some experts' hopes of finding a cure for XDR-TB had begun to dwindle after recent reports of 52 deaths in 16 days in South Africa after an outbreak among patients with HIV.

"The reason we have the problem is inadequate control of TB," said Dr. John Moore-Gillon, a spokesman for the British Lung Foundation.

"This treatment is extremely labor and resource intensive and has to be done within extremely well structured TB programs.

"It's a very important paper showing it's possible to deal with XDR-TB but it's very expensive."
He added that MDR-TB treatment costs tens of thousands but for XDR-TB it's "much more than that".


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