Tag Archives: drug resistant tuberculosis

Global Disparities in Tuberculosis Treatment Highlight Need for More Research

We are reminded yet again why global health issues matter for Americans with recent news coverage of a possible tuberculosis outbreak at a Virginia high school that may have affected over 430 faculty and students. Health officials are recommending that all individuals at the school be tested for the disease.

Courtesy of CDC/ Dr. Ray Butler

Tuberculosis bacteria
Photo credit: CDC/ Dr. Ray Butler

Historically, tuberculosis has been the world’s greatest infectious killer, taking an estimated billion lives over the past 200 years. Tuberculosis remains a global threat today – in 2011 alone, the disease sickened 8.7 million people. Even more alarming is the rise of drug-resistant forms of the disease. WHO estimates that more than 5% of TB patients worldwide have multidrug resistant (MDR) TB, meaning that typical frontline drugs will not be effective. Because it is often expensive to test for drug-resistance, only a handful of patients are appropriately diagnosed so many experts estimate that this number may be even higher. Doctors are also discovering cases of extensively drug resistant (XDR) TB in which patients do not respond to a majority of existing drugs. Continue reading →

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Vitamin C may be useful complement to existing drugs in fight against drug-resistant TB

A recently published, unexpected discovery coming from researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University suggests that vitamin C may be a useful component to treating drug-resistant tuberculosis. This finding may sound more like something out of a television medical drama than real life, but the research—funded by the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease at the National Institutes of Health—suggests that ascorbic acid may help kill the bacteria that cause TB.

These preliminary findings have laid a foundation for clinical trials using vitamin C in tandem with other drugs. Researchers observed that vitamin C treatment of the cultured bacteria led to generation of harmful “free radicals” in both drug-sensitive and drug-resistant TB strains. It remains to be seen if vitamin C can have the same effect on the bacteria that have infected a human. Multi- and extreme-drug resistant forms of TB (MDR- and XDR-TB) are significant health threats and developing effective therapy requires the research community using every tool available. Continue reading →