New Drug To Help Cure Tuberculosis Sooner

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Woman suffering from Tuberculosis holds her baby, who suffers from TB and malnutrition, in a hospital in Minakaman
A woman suffering from Tuberculosis (TB) holds her baby, who suffers from TB and malnutrition, in a hospital in Minakaman, Lakes State, June 26, 2014. Reuters

A drug combination that will help cure tuberculosis sooner has been devised by South African researchers.

In South Africa, every year, about 400,000 people are affected by tuberculosis which takes about six months to cure. Some of the patients do not complete their course of medication because of the length and side effects of the medications.

On July 21, at the International Aids Conference in Melbourne, it was said that PA-842, a new combination drug of two older medicines, would shorten the time of treatment to four months.

Derek Ambrosino, the tuberculosis Alliance spokesman had mentioned that in the last fifty years, there had been no new drug licensed to treat tuberculosis and neither was there anything to shorten the treament time. Dr. Rodney Dawson from the University of Cape Town Lung Institute said that the research showed that PA-842 can treat cases of drug-resistant tuberculosis as well, shortening the treatment time from a huge two years to six months. Also, this medication will result in lesser side effects.

The executive director of the Results Educational Fund, Joanne Carter, praised the research and remarked that one out of five people suffering from HIV, die because of tuberculosis which is a preventable and treatable disease. He added that this drug can provide shorter, simpler and less toxic tuberculosis treatment and will help those affected with HIV to complete their course of medication for tuberculosis.

A non-profit organisation, TB Alliance, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have developed and tested the drug. In 2002, TB Alliance procured the drug from a small biotechnology company and have been working on it ever since. The aim of the NGO is to provide the drug at a cheap price for the poor countries but funding is required to test the drug in the Phase Three of the trial. Yogan Pillay, the deputy director general of the National Department of Health explained that the Phase Two of the trial produced exciting results but completion of Phase Three will only prove their success.

Keerthan Dheda from the University of Cape Town, praising the drug said that PA-842 is a big step in the right direction.

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