· Breakthrough research presented at The Union World Conference for Lung Health includes new drug with potential to shorten and improve
treatment for nearly all forms of TB;
· Trial is underway for “universal regimen” for drug-sensitive and drug-resistant TB;
· New research suggests that rats are able to detect TB;
· Pioneering battery-operated tests herald new opportunities for rapid diagnostic capabilities
Paris; November 16th 2023: Researchers have announced a drug that has the potential to shorten and improve treatment for nearly all forms of TB, on the second day of The Union World Conference on Lung Health.
Research led by TB Alliance showed that a new compound, TBAJ-876, could be part of a new combination of drugs that could result in a potential “universal regimen” leading to both drug-sensitive and drug-resistant TB being treated with the same therapy.
Results from preclinical and Phase 1 studies presented at the Union World Conference showed that TBAJ-876, when compared with bedaquiline (similar TB medicine),
eliminated TB bacteria faster and had a potentially safer profile.
Based on these results, a new “Pan-Phase 2” trial is underway to test a potential “universal regimen”.
If successful, TBAJ-876 could prove to be part of the backbone for a regimen capable of unifying treatment for drug-sensitive and most drug-resistant TB with
a single, short, and safe treatment combination.
TBAJ-876 is one of several new treatments being hailed as a potential gamechanger and a much-needed step forward in the global fight against TB.
PREVENTATIVE THERAPY EFFECTIVE TO REDUCE THE RISK OF MULTI-DRUG RESISTANT TB IN CHILDREN
The Union World Conference also heard from researchers from Desmond Tutu TB Centre, University of Stellenbosch, who shared how the risk of developing multi-drug
resistant TB (MDR-TB) can be prevented in children.
Their study, which was funded by global health initiative Unitaid among other funders, focused on the antibiotic levofloxacin.
The team showed that a drug regimen of six months was both safe and effective in preventing the development of MDR-TB in children. This community-based trial
focused on child and adolescent household contacts of adults with MDR-TB in South Africa.
AFRICAN GIANT POUCHED RATS ABLE TO DETECT TB
APOPO researchers from Tanzania, Belgium, Mozambique, and Ethiopia presented analysis into rats that could sniff out the presence of TB.
Researchers discovered that African giant pouched rats could identify the presence of TB in saliva samples using their sense of smell – even when the TB load within the sample was low.
Utilising the animals’ natural strengths allowed the scientists to increase rates of TB diagnosis in some of the world’s most vulnerable communities and subsequently improve the population’s quality of health.
The researchers found that the rats were also more sensitive to the presence of TB in samples from children than adults, in an alternative methodology for rapidly identifying and treating cases of childhood TB.
BATTERY-OPERATED LAB-IN-TUBE DETECTS COMMUNITY TB CASES
The Union World Conference on Lung Health heard from Dr Tony Hu, Professor at Tulane University, who shared how rapid portable, battery-operated tests could be a new tool for point-of-care TB testing requiring minimal equipment and user expertise.
Point-of-care testing does not require specialised clinical or laboratory equipment, making this an invaluable tool in preventing the spread of a disease through early detection. Additionally, it has the potential to be scaled up quickly if disease hotspots are identified, allowing scientists to respond rapidly to TB outbreaks.
Like the African giant pouched rat, the battery-operated test offers new possibilities for making the diagnosis of TB quicker, which is crucial for controlling the disease.
The study found levofloxacin to be 60% effective in reducing the risk of TB in a noteworthy step for controlling and – eventually – helping to eradicate MDR-TB
MDR-TB disease in children is complex to treat, requires several antibiotics, and can result in catastrophic costs to families. Children with MDR-TB remain
one of the most neglected populations affected by TB.
The researchers’ findings lead the way in demonstrating the value of preventative measures for childhood MDR-TB in the face of this global public health issue.