30 July 2010
1,000 New Patients With Disease To Be Recruited
The regional tuberculosis research centre, Chennai, is in the process of recruiting more than 1,000 freshly diagnosed tuberculosis patients for a clinical trial that aims to reduce treatment for the bacterial infection from six months to four months, its director Dr V Kumaraswamy said here on Thursday.
Inaugurating a three–day seminar on bioengineering at SRM Medical College, he said that though the name of the treatment programme is Directly Observed Treatment, Short–course (DOTS), patients have to be given a combination of drugs every day for at least six months. In the first two months, they are given isoniazid, rifampicin, pyrazinamide and ethambutol, then isoniazid and rifampicin alone for four months. TB is one of the leading causes of mortality in India, killing two persons every three minutes, nearly 1,000 every day.
“TB is curable. Yet we have people dying. The national TB programme has been a huge success because it has brought down the death rate. But we have been seeing an increase of multi–drug resistant TB. This is a result of poor management of TB patients. Most patients do not follow the drug schedule and the bacteria learns to fight the drugs. This kind of TB is dangerous because chances of cure are bleak,” he said.
The centre is now working on an improved regimen that could reduce the dosage duration to four months.“That’s the best option we have now. There are no new molecules or vaccines that are likely to be ready for another decade,” he said. The trial will now add moxifloxacin to see if they can reduce the dosage duration by at least two months. The process of enrollment began a year ago.“It’s been a tedious process not just because of the number of people we require for the study but also the kind of qualifications we need. To enroll, patients should be freshly diagnosed cases with no co–morbidity such as HIV/AIDS. They should also not have drug resistant TB,” he said.
Taking On The Killer
- Nearly 1,000 people die due to tuberculosis everyday in the country, making the disease one of the leading causes of mortality
- The latest trial will add moxifloxacin to see if the dosage duration can be reduced from six months to four months
- Multi–drug resistant TB is extremely difficult to treat and is caused by poor management of treatment