A team of researchers has developed a novel treatment for tuberculosis (TB), which has the potential to be ‘scaled-up’ for clinical testing.
Using an inhaler, patients can take this treatment, which helps to cut down the bacteria level in lungs that causes tuberculosis, whilst boosting the patient’s immune system to combat the disease.
Currently, only one vaccine exists for tuberculosis treatment, which was developed in 1921. However, this vaccine is not considered to be effective in preventing the most common kind of TB and unsuitable for use in all patients.
It also works only against some particular kinds of TB and is usually given to infants who come under at-risk population.
The pathogen that causes tuberculosis spreads to people when they breathe infected droplets in air, into their lungs.
TB is one of the top 10 causes of death across the world. According to the data of the World Health Organization (WHO), 10 million people fell ill with TB and 1.6 million died from the disease in 2017.
According to the organisation’s estimates, there were 558,000 new cases with resistance to the most effective first-line antibiotic. Out of those found to be resistant to treatment, 82% were resistant to multiple antibiotics.
It is for this reason that multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) is considered to be a public health security threat. Wiping out the TB epidemic by 2030 is part of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
The study, led by researchers at Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), is funded by the Health Research Board (HRB) and the Royal City of Dublin Hospital Trust.
It was carried out in collaboration with research teams of St James Hospital, Trinity College Dublin and Imperial College London.
The study’s senior author and RCSI School of Pharmacy associate professor Sally-Ann Cryan Cryan said: “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.”
This study makes use of a derivative of Vitamin A, called all trans retinoic acid (atRA). Previous studies have indicated this derivative to be effective in TB treatment.
Making use of a spray-drying process, the researchers packaged atRA in a way that is sufficient for use in an inhaler.
These particles effectively delivered the treatment and reduced tuberculosis-causing bacteria significantly. This study supports potential for clinical testing.