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Drug resistant tuberculosis is a serious threat to society. This category contains all types of tuberculosis infection resistant to any type of antibiotics. There may be resistance to only one drug or many drugs. As the resistance to the number of drugs increases, the severity of the infection also increases. Many attempts have been made to discover new antibiotics which can easily cure drug resistant tuberculosis.
These attempts have produced bounteous results. The researchers from University of Otago have come across a new way to treat strains of antibiotic drug resistant tuberculosis. This is a blessing for the thousands of people suffering from tuberculosis and their next of kin. The research was published in nature communications journal which is an open access journal publishing high quality research material from all fields of natural sciences.
Research specifics of Drug resistant Tuberculosis cure identification
The research was led by Natalie Waller- a PhD candidate, Chen Yi Chung- Assistant Research fellow, Dr. Matthew McNiel – Post doctoral scientist and Dr. Gregory Cook- professor and Head of Department. They all belong to the Department of Microbiology and Immunology in University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand. These researchers were able to deduce a new antibiotic capable of rapidly eliminating the many strains of antibiotic drug resistant tuberculosis. According to the researchers this new antibiotic is even capable of eliminating drug resistant tuberculosis from transpiring entirely.
The research was financially supported by the Royal Society of New Zealand Fund and also by the Maurice Wilkins Centre.
According to Dr. Matthew McNiel, there is not only a need for new drugs but also better drug combinations which can increase the success rate of the treatment and consequently can prevent the further spread of antibiotic drug resistant tuberculosis. He further added that antibiotic resistance in tuberculosis typically leads to reduction in sensitivity to the treatment drugs, but there are some cases known where when a pathogen becomes resistant to one antibiotic, it can make that pathogen more sensitive to other completely unassociated antibiotics. This phenomenon is known as collateral sensitivity and according to the researchers, until now it has been unexplored to a larger extent in tuberculosis infection studies.
Dr. Matthew McNeil further adds that tuberculosis causing bacteria is a “very hardy, resilient and hard to study” bacteria in the lab owing to the fact that it is a dangerous pathogen and grows extremely slowly in the cultures. To overcome this stumbling block, their study used a “weak non-virulent strain of Mycobacterium tuberculosis” ( it is the name of the tuberculosis causing bacteria ) to produce different strains resistant to different antibiotics. He further said that this strain cannot cause disease and also cannot survive outside of the environment of the lab.
After making different strains the researchers tried to deduce whether these drug resistant strains of tuberculosis bacteria had increased or decreased sensitivity to the other antibiotics.
According to Dr McNiel, they wanted their work to have the highest chance to make a clinical impact and because of this intention they emphasized the use of drugs which were either clinically approved or were in a preclinical stage of development.
Fortunately they were able to identify many instances in which a drug resistant tuberculosis strain was found to be more sensitive to a completely unassociated antibiotic which targets a completely different pathway in the bacteria physiology. Researchers were able to show the results of these completely unrelated antibiotics killing drug resistant strains and they also created new and unique drug combinations which were able to prevent the emergence of new drug resistant strains of tuberculosis bacteria.
According to the scientists, the research has clearly demonstrated that the drug resistant strains of tuberculosis causing bacteria have unique weaknesses and fortunately they were able to identify them. These weaknesses can be specifically targeted making the duration of the treatment less and also preventing the emergence of new drug resistance. Now they are focussing to further step up their research by applying their findings on animal studies.
According to the researchers this is a significant step in the fight against antibiotic drug resistance and there is still a lot of work left to be done.
Full research article can be read here.