New drug therapy provides hope for TB and HIV patients
A brand new combined-drug regimen revealed at the 20th International Aids Conference in Melbourne will allow for the concurrent treatment of Tuberculosis (TB) and HIV, claim researchers.
Scientists from the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development tested a new drug treatment called PaMZ that can cure some forms of TB in as little as four months.
The new drug combination is an amalgam of PA-824, an antibiotic not yet approved for TB treatments, Moxifloxacin, and Pyrazinamide, an established TB drug in an eight-week trial conducted in parts of South Africa and Tanzania.
The results of the 2013 trial were disclosed at the Melbourne conference yesterday. The research involved a comparative study between PaMZ and conventional TB antibiotics tested on 207 South-African volunteers, of which one-fifth suffered also from HIV.
Results showed that 181 responded positively to the PaMZ combination, while 26 were multi-drug resistant (MDR), indicating that they had not responded to standard antibiotics.
It was found that 71% of those treated with PaMZ were cured of TB within two months in comparison to 38% of sufferers receiving standard antibiotics.
Researchers think that the new drug combination has the potential to cure both TB and some forms of MDR-TB in four months and would drastically improve treatment.
Dr Mel Spigelman, chief executive of the TB Alliance, which conducted the study commented: “This shows its potential to shorten therapy, for drug-sensitive and some forms of MDR-TB.”
Current MDR-TB treatment is costly and takes nearly two years therapy. PaMZ promises to narrow the time frame from two years to just four months, as well as reduce the related health-care costs by 90%.
Previously, treating patients for TB who were at the same time receiving Antiretroviral therapy (ART) to combat HIV would not have been feasible because certain drugs employed in the treatment of TB, such as Rifampin, inhibit the effectiveness of drugs used to fight the AIDS virus.
The announcement of the trial’s success therefore represents significant progression in the fight against TB mortality rates in patients suffering from HIV.
In areas such as Sub-Saharan Africa, China and Indonesia, those infected with HIV/AIDS are twenty times more likely to contract TB than those not infected, and as a result TB is accountable for more HIV-related deaths than any other disease.
Dr Spigelman believes it could take a further “three years” for the regimen to become widely available to those who need it.
Addressing the conference he said: “Developing treatments for TB and understanding which combinations of drugs works is a very lengthy process. It took us ten years to get where we are today, so another three years until this treatment becomes available is pretty good in the scheme of things.”