NZ scientists fighting drug resistant TB

  • 01/08/2017
Young scientist works in modern biological lab, toned image
Photo credit: iStock

Otago microbiologists are finding new ways to beat an old enemy, tuberculosis.

An international research group, that has Otago microbiologists as key leading members, is looking at an innovative approach in drug discovery to combat TB.

The team, which includes Professor Greg Cook and colleague Kiel Hards of Otago, published its findings on the promising approach of identifying the key molecular components of mycobacterium tuberculosis, which causes TB, that supersensitise the pathogen to new TB drugs.

The World Health Organisation says TB is one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide and a leading killer of HIV-positive people.

Professor Cook says drug resistant strains of TB are becoming a huge problem, and they are taking an enormous toll on some of the most vulnerable people in the world.

"Our team is trying to develop new ways to treat this horrible disease, because our existing weapons against it are increasingly failing, too toxic and act too slowly," Prof Cook said.

"We are confident new treatments that bypass the multiple-drug resistance problem, and cut back the existing long treatment period, will not be that far around the corner."

TB Facts

  • Globally, 1.8 million people died of the disease in 2015
  • 10.4 million new cases were reported that same year
  • An estimated 580,000 people with these new cases had multi-drug resistant TB
  • Cure rates for people with drug resistant strains of TB are 5-10%

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