New Drug Against Multidrug-Resistant Tuberculosis Developed

An international team of researchers has developed a promising new drug for the treatment of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (TB).

Asian Scientist (Aug. 8, 2013) – An international team, led by researchers in South Korea and Singapore, has developed a promising new drug for the treatment of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) and successfully tested the therapy in mice.

TB, an infectious disease usually caused by the Mycobacterium tuberculosis pathogen, is a global health problem that kills 1.4 million people every year.

A third of the world’s population is estimated to have been infected with M. tuberculosis and although the number of new TB cases has been decreasing, the spread of multidrug-resistant strains of M. tuberculosis means that new drugs are urgently required to combat the TB pandemic.

The new drug candidate, described in a paper published in Nature Medicine, inhibits the growth of M. tuberculosis through a novel mechanism and bears no similarity to existing TB drugs. This may make it harder for TB-causing bacterial strains to develop resistance to this new drug.

To develop the drug candidate, the researchers first tested over 121,000 compounds, looking for molecules that inhibited M. tuberculosis growth in infected mouse macrophages (white blood cells that function in the immune system).

This drug screen narrowed their options down to 96 compounds, from which the two most effective were selected for further tests against multidrug-resistant M. tuberculosis strains isolated from patients.

Of the two compounds, one was found to be effective against the multidrug-resistant strain, suggesting it acts through a mechanism different from drugs most commonly used as TB therapy.

Almost 500 derivatives of this lead compound were synthesized and tested in the next phase of the study, resulting in the development of the optimized drug candidate known as Q203.

The researchers then demonstrated that Q203 could successfully treat TB-infected mice, making it a promising new drug for treating drug-resistant TB in humans.

The researchers plan to move Q203 into phase I clinical trials next year to determine the safety of this drug in humans.

The article can be found at: Pethe et al. (2013) Discovery Of Q203, A Potent Clinical Candidate For The Treatment Of Tuberculosis.


Copyright: Asian Scientist Magazine; Image: NIAID/Flickr/CC.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

Yew Chung is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School, Singapore.

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