Novel treatment may offer promise to TB patients

London: Researchers have developed a new treatment that could be used to treat hundreds of thousands of patients with tuberculosis (TB).

The study showed that the treatment, which patients will take using an inhaler, works by reducing the bacteria in the lungs causing tuberculosis while also helping the patient’s immune system to fight the disease.

“Many cases of TB are now becoming resistant to existing antibiotics. This new treatment could be used alongside antibiotics to treat drug-resistant TB and also possibly reduce the rate of antibiotic resistance resulting from conventional antibiotic treatments,” said Sally-Ann Cryan, Associate Professor at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI).

TB is one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide. Ten million people fell ill with TB and 1.6 million died from the disease in 2017, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

For the study, the team used a spray-drying process and packaged all trans-Retinoic acid (ATRA) solution — a derivative of Vitamin A — within safe-for-consumption particles that are small enough to use in an inhaler.

The findings, published in the European Journal of Pharmaceutics and Biopharmaceutics, demonstrated that these particles efficiently delivered the treatment and significantly reduced TB-causing bacteria and associated lung damage.

“Unfortunately, TB remains a significant problem for world health. We urgently need innovative treatments like this one if we are to achieve the UN 2030 health targets,” said Joseph Keane, Professor at Trinity College Dublin.

There is only one vaccine for TB, developed in 1921, which is unreliable in preventing the most common form of TB, and is not suitable in all patient groups.

The vaccine works best against specific forms of TB and is usually given to infants in at-risk populations.

There were 558,000 new cases with resistance to the most effective first-line antibiotic, among which 82 per cent were resistant to multiple antibiotics, estimated the WHO.