New tuberculosis medicines prove more effective in treating resistant strains of TB, with new findings leading to overhaul of worldwide guidelines
Several new medicines have been found to be more effective than traditional ones used to treat multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB), according to a new international collaborative study led by Dr. Dick Menzies, senior scientist at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) in Montreal. These findings precipitated a complete overhaul of worldwide TB treatment guidelines, with the results of this work published today in the British medical journal The Lancet.
Approximately 600,000 cases of MDR-TB emerge each year, claiming 240,000 lives. Diagnosis and treatment remains a major challenge with only one in four affected patients being diagnosed and even fewer being treated successfully. Present treatment practices of MDR-TB employ expensive, antiquated drugs that lead to toxic side effects such as constant nausea, hearing loss and renal failure.
Dr. Menzies, who is also a respirologist at the MUHC, and his colleagues combined the data of over 12,000 patients suffering with MDR-TB from 50 studies conducted in 25 countries. By compiling such a large amount of data, researchers were able to determine that new TB drugs such as bedaquiline, linezolid, and the later generation fluoroquinolones achieve excellent results in the treatment of MDR-TB, demonstrating consistently better cure rates and reduced mortality compared to currently used treatments. These new drugs were also effective in treating XDR-TB (extensively drug-resistant TB). In addition, the study showed that daily injections for treating MDR-TB may no longer be necessary (except in the most serious of cases).
The World Health Organization (WHO) has already responded to this study’s findings by announcing landmark changes in line with this MDR-TB regimen and, also, positioning fully oral regimens over injectable agents.