Nav: Home

RCSI researchers develop new tuberculosis treatment

January 08, 2019

Tuesday, 8 January 2019: Led by researchers at RCSI (Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland), a team of researchers has developed a new treatment for tuberculosis (TB). This work could offer a practical treatment that has the potential to be scaled-up and mass-produced for clinical testing.

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

There is only one vaccine for tuberculosis, developed in 1921. It 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.

Tuberculosis is one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide. The World Health Organization (WHO) data show that 10 million people fell ill with TB and 1.6 million died from the disease in 2017. WHO estimates that there were 558,000 new cases with resistance to the most effective first-line antibiotic. Of those resistant to the drug, 82% were resistant to multiple antibiotics.

Funded by the Health Research Board (HRB) and the Royal City of Dublin Hospital Trust, the research is published in the European Journal of Pharmaceutics & Biopharmaceutics.

The work, led by Dr Gemma O'Connor and Prof Sally-Ann Cryan in RCSI, was carried out in collaboration with research teams in St James Hospital, Trinity College Dublin and Imperial College London. Prof Joseph Keane and Dr Mary O'Sullivan led the team at St James Hospital and Trinity College Dublin with Dr Brian Robertson and Dr Nitya Krishnan leading the team at Imperial College London.

Multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) is seen as both a public health crisis and a health security threat. Ending the TB epidemic by 2030 is listed among the health targets of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

The pathogen that causes tuberculosis spreads by people breathing infected droplets into their lungs, where the disease can remain dormant or spread further. The research makes use of a derivative of Vitamin A called all trans retinoic acid, atRA, which previous studies have shown is an effective treatment for tuberculosis.

"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 Prof Cryan, Associate Professor of Pharmaceutics in RCSI School of Pharmacy and the study's senior author.

Using a spray-drying process, the researchers packaged atRA within safe-for-consumption particles that are small enough to use in an inhaler. These particles efficiently delivered the treatment and significantly reduced tuberculosis-causing bacteria and associated lung damage, which supports their potential for clinical testing.

"Unfortunately, tuberculosis 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 Prof Keane, Professor at Trinity College Dublin School of Medicine and Consultant Respiratory Physician in St James's Hospital.
-end-
RCSI is ranked among the top 250 (top 2%) of universities worldwide in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings (2019) and its research is ranked first in Ireland for citations. It is an international not-for-profit health sciences institution, with its headquarters in Dublin, focused on education and research to drive improvements in human health worldwide. RCSI has been awarded Athena Swan Bronze accreditation for positive gender practice in higher education and was awarded Investors in Diversity accreditation in 2018.

RCSI

Related Tuberculosis Articles:

Old target, new mechanism for overcoming tuberculosis resistance
In strains of tuberculosis that have developed drug resistance mutations, researchers have identified a secondary pathway that can be activated to reinstate drug sensitivity.
Researchers use tiny 3-D spheres to combat tuberculosis
Researchers at the University of Southampton have developed a new 3-D system to study human infection in the laboratory.
How the tuberculosis vaccine may protect against other diseases
The tuberculosis vaccine is well known to help protect against other infectious diseases, as well as cancer, but the exact mechanisms have not been clear.
Tuberculosis bacteria find their ecological niche
An international team of researchers have isolated and analyzed genetically tuberculosis bacteria from several thousand patients from over a hundred countries.
Tuberculosis and HIV co-infection
The HIV virus increases the potency of the tuberculosis bacterium (Mtb) by affecting a central function of the immune system.
Scientists explain why Russian tuberculosis is the most infectious
Scientists conducted a large-scale analysis of the proteins and genomes of mycobacterium tuberculosis strains that are common in Russia and countries of the former Soviet Union and found features that provide a possible explanation for their epidemiological success.
Tuberculosis elimination at stake
New data released by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and WHO/Europe show that an estimated 340,000 Europeans developed tuberculosis in 2014, corresponding to a rate of 37 cases per 100,000 population.
Curcumin may help overcome drug-resistant tuberculosis
New research indicates that curcumin -- a substance in turmeric that is best known as one of the main components of curry powder -- may help fight drug-resistant tuberculosis.
Stopping tuberculosis requires new strategy
Unless there is a major shift in the way the world fights tuberculosis -- from a reliance on biomedical solutions to an approach that combines biomedical interventions with social actions -- the epidemic and drug resistance will worsen, say researchers at Harvard T.H.
Tulane researchers working on new tuberculosis vaccine
Researchers at the Tulane National Primate Research Center are leading efforts to find a new vaccine for tuberculosis, one of the world's deadliest diseases.

Related Tuberculosis Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Jumpstarting Creativity
Our greatest breakthroughs and triumphs have one thing in common: creativity. But how do you ignite it? And how do you rekindle it? This hour, TED speakers explore ideas on jumpstarting creativity. Guests include economist Tim Harford, producer Helen Marriage, artificial intelligence researcher Steve Engels, and behavioral scientist Marily Oppezzo.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#524 The Human Network
What does a network of humans look like and how does it work? How does information spread? How do decisions and opinions spread? What gets distorted as it moves through the network and why? This week we dig into the ins and outs of human networks with Matthew Jackson, Professor of Economics at Stanford University and author of the book "The Human Network: How Your Social Position Determines Your Power, Beliefs, and Behaviours".