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A new drug combination could reduce the tuberculosis treatment time by more than a year, eliminate the need for injections and reduce the cost of current treatment by as much as 90 percent.
Scientists working in Cape Town have tested the new combination and revealed their findings at the International Aids Conference in Washington DC on Monday.
Senior director of the TB Alliance’s clinical development department, Dr Christo van Niekerk, said: “The current treatment involves taking four drugs daily for two months and then two drugs daily for four months.
“The new treatment regimen would only require taking three drugs a day and could reduce treatment time considerably.”
The study called New Combination 1, was completed at two centres in South Africa over two weeks.
It involved a new combination therapy call PaMZ, consisting of the TB drug candidate PA-824, moxifloxacin, an established antibiotic not yet approved for use in first-line TB therapy and pyrazinamide, an existing TB drug.
The results showed that over a period of two weeks, the new drug combination killed 99 percent of patients’ TB bacteria, indicating that full treatment could be reduced by more than a year.
According to the TB Alliance, people with multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB) require 18 to 24 months of treatment while those with ordinary TB need six months of taking drugs everyday.
“These findings confirm the promise of novel TB regimens to be shorter, simpler, safer, and, compared with today’s MDR-TB drugs, much less expensive,” said Dr Mel Spigelman, president of the TB Alliance.
The next step is to conduct another study, using 230 patients. “This trial will take place in eight sites across the world, one of which is in Cape Town,” Van Niekerk said.