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article imageNew TB drug in development

By Tim Sandle     Jul 7, 2014 in Science
Researchers have modified the precursor to one of the drugs used to treat tuberculosis. This is seen as an important first step toward new drugs that can transcend antibiotic resistance issues and treat serious global diseases.
Tuberculosis (TB) is a common, and in many cases lethal, infectious disease caused by various strains of mycobacteria, usually Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Tuberculosis may infect any part of the body, but most commonly occurs in the lungs. Globally, tuberculosis is the second most common cause of death from infectious disease (after those due to HIV/AIDS).
Two forms of tuberculosis, referred to as "multi-drug-resistant," or MDR, and "extensively drug-resistant," or XDR, have become resistant to the main TB drug called rifampicin. Nonetheless, rifampicin still has potential but not in its current form.
Rifampicin was first used in 1967. It is an intensely red solid, and the small fraction which reaches body fluids is known for imparting a harmless red-orange color to the urine (and to a lesser extent, also sweat and tears) of users, for a few hours after a dose.
The new approach works by modifying rifampicin so it can effectively bind to this mutated enzyme and once again achieve its effectiveness. In short, a combination of genetic modification and synthetic drug development was used to create the new compound.
So far the new compound has been developed in laboratory. Further development and testing will be necessary before it is ready for human use.
The findings have been reported in the Journal of Biological Chemistry. The paper is titled “Modification of Rifamycin Polyketide Backbone Leads to Improved Drug Activity Against Rifampicin-Resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis.”
More about Tuberculosis, mycobacterium, Drugs
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