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NEWTBDRUGS — Result In Brief

Project ID: 18729
Country: Germany

New drugs for persistent tuberculosis

European researchers identified new drug targets for resistant strains of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Project outcomes have the potential to advance related drug developments.
New drugs for persistent tuberculosis
Tuberculosis (TB) is one of the most deadly infectious diseases caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Patients can often be asymptomatic but if left untreated, tuberculosis can kill over 50 % of sufferers. Although antibiotic treatment eradicates the disease, non-compliance to the prescribed long-duration therapy leads to the development of drug-resistant bacterial strains. Additionally, the emergence of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) has significantly decreased the treatment success rate with available antibiotics.

The 'New drugs for persistent tuberculosis: Exploitation of 3-D structure of novel targets, lead optimisation and functional in-vivo evaluation' (Newtbdrugs) project worked to develop new drugs to combat the problems of TB treatment. The partners identified drug targets of Mycobacterium tuberculosis responsible for disease persistence. Their three-dimensional (3D) structure was solved, thus presenting a finding that can help direct drug development towards eradicating them.

The lack of sensitive detection methods for TB leaves many patients unaware of their infection. With this in mind, the consortium developed new assays for the rapid and specific screening of drug-persistent Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Unique compounds that kill bacteria resistant to the commonly used antibiotic Rifampicin were also identified.

Finally, study results showed that persistent Mycobacterium tuberculosis is metabolically active, leading scientists to propose chemotherapy as an alternative therapeutic regime to ineffective antibiotics.

The study contributed significant knowledge to the biology of TB persistence, directing drug research to more effective compounds that will improve the treatment of latent TB infection.

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