With resistance to conventional drugs providing to be a major hurdle in fighting tuberculosis (TB), researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (IIT-B) have developed a new drug that they say could help combat the disease.
According to their study, which was published in a journal, Frontiers in Microbiology, in 2017, combining Rifampicin, a commonly used antibiotic, with cumene hydroperoxide (CHP), a compound that itself doesn’t have antibiotic properties, enhances the efficacy of the drug against Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which is responsible for the disease. It can also reduce the dosage of the drug, limiting its side effects, states the study by Yesha Patel and Sarika Mehra, faculty members at IIT-B’s department of chemical engineering.
“Many of the existing drugs are ineffective against the widespread drug-resistant strains of mycobacterium,” said Mehra.
The Centre’s data states that in 2018, 55,450 people were diagnosed with multi-drug resistant (MDR)-TB across the country, with 7,185 from Maharashtra.
In MDR cases, bacteria develop resistance to Isoniazid and Rifampicin, the two most powerful anti-TB drugs. Drug resistance is a result of incomplete and incorrect treatment or getting infected by a strain which is already resistant to many drugs.
The scientists tested the combination of drugs on Mycobacterium smegmatis and Mycobacterium bovis BCG, close cousins of the TB bacterium.
CHP, the combination drug used by researchers, was found to help in the rupture and
death of the cells of these
They found that when used alongside CHP, Rifampicin was readily taken in by the cells, enabling them to use smaller doses of the antibiotic.
“The combination therapy is synergistic, meaning it reduces the amount of the antibiotic required even for regular (drug-sensitive) bacteria,” said Mehra.
However, the method can’t yet be used by doctors.
“The research is merely proof of a concept. While CHP proved to be helpful, it’s a toxic product and can’t be used in a clinic. We are now researching with another product which has similar properties as CHP, but is approved by Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The combination will be tested on actual TB bacteria, followed by clinical research,” said
Mehra said that in addition to the combination therapy, researchers should also explore repurposing existing drugs, which are used for other diseases, for the treatment.
“It takes a long time to develop a new drug. Instead, it’s more practical to explore existing drugs,” she said.