A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Otago has uncovered new treatment possibilities for antibiotic-resistant strains of tuberculosis (TB); a chronic and fatal global health issue that affects millions of people annually. According to the scientists, these findings could potentially provide new ways to tackle the deadly disease, which claims the lives of around 4,000 people every day.
Dr. Matthew McNeil, Lead Author of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, and Natalie Waller, a Ph.D. candidate, have conducted research to discover antibiotics that could effectively eliminate drug-resistant Tuberculosis (TB) strains and, if used together, could entirely prevent the development of drug resistance. According to Dr. Matthew, “We need new drugs and better drug combinations that can improve treatment success and prevent the further spread of antibiotic resistance. These new treatments offer hope to those struggling to combat these difficult-to-treat infections, providing an invaluable resource in the fight against this life-threatening disease.”
Tuberculosis (TB) is a major global cause of infectious disease, second only to COVID-19, and one of the most difficult infections to treat. Around 10 million individuals contract TB annually, resulting in approximately 4,000 deaths each day. Additionally, the alarming rate at which drug-resistant strains of the disease are spreading poses a further challenge to treatment, as these strains are challenging to treat and offer limited treatment options.
A weakened, non-virulent strain of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which cannot cause disease or survive outside of the lab, was used in the study to create strains resistant to various antibiotics. The researchers then investigated whether the drug-resistant strains of the bacterium had a higher or lower sensitivity to other antibiotics. The study inferred that drug-resistant strains of M. tuberculosis possess specific vulnerabilities that can be exploited to dramatically shorten treatment times and forestall the onset of drug resistance if identified.
Dr. McNeil emphasizes that this finding is crucial in combating antimicrobial resistance. Nevertheless, further research into animal studies is necessary to continue advancing the cause.
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