Drug that makes TB Germs Self-destruct Raises Hope of Cure
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25 March 2010
Australian scientists said on Wednesday they had discovered a drug which could cure tuberculosis at its noninfectious stage and could be the first major breakthrough on the disease in 50 years.
Bacteriologist Nick West said researchers at Sydney’s Centenary Institute had developed a drug which could essentially combat the disease before it takes hold, potentially saving millions of lives around the world.
“We have investigated a protein essential for TB to survive and we’ve had success in developing a drug that will inhibit this protein,” said West. “Our goal over the coming months is to find out the full extent of this drug’s potential.”
West said it would be the first time in history that dormant or asymptomatic, noninfectious TB would be able to be treated, potentially stemming a deadly tide of infection which claimed two million lives every year.
“Unfortunately, the antibiotics we use to fight TB aren’t effective against latent TB and can only be used when the disease becomes active,” he explained. “This is a major problem as one out of 10 people who have latent TB will develop the active disease.”
“If we can figure out a way to treat tuberculosis when it’s in a latent stage, then we could save millions of lives throughout the world,” West added.
If successful the drug would be the the first new treatment for TB since 1962, according to the institute.