Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis is a very difficult disease to treat due to antibiotic resistance, but new treatments could help fight this scourge.
- At the Union Global Lung Health Conference held in Paris on November 15, scientists presented the latest advances in the treatment of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis.
- Levofloxacin reduces the risk of developing multidrug-resistant tuberculosis by 60%, according to two separate studies.
- This antibiotic has the advantage of being inexpensive compared to other treatment regimens. Which could make it more accessible in developing countries heavily affected by the disease.
Although it only represents around 5% of tuberculosis cases, multidrug-resistant tuberculosis is particularly worrying due to its poor response to standard anti-tuberculosis treatments. But health professionals could have new weapons to fight it. Several encouraging studies were presented at the Union Global Lung Health Conference in Paris on November 15, 2023.
Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis: levofloxacin, an effective and inexpensive drug?
One of the most promising treatments appears to be the antibiotic levofloxacin. This drug would reduce the risk of developing multi-drug resistant tuberculosis by 60%, according to the pooled results of two separate studies revealed by an AFP report. This work was carried out respectively with children from South Africa and Vietnamese adults. Philip Duneton, executive director of theNGO which co-financed the South African study, believes that it is a “a major breakthrough that could help protect millions of children from a devastating disease.”
In addition to its action against multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, levofloxacin has a major advantage according to experts: its cost. Inexpensive, it would therefore be easier to access for populations in developing countries, where infection is particularly widespread.
Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis: what there is to know
In multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB)the tuberculosis bacilli, responsible for the infection, prove to be resistant to first-line anti-tuberculosis drugs such as rifampicin and isoniazid. Its symptoms are the same as for the usual form of tuberculosis; vsi.e. weight loss, slightly elevated temperature, fatigue and cough. Sputum production and chest pain may be seen if the mycobacteria affects the lungs. Due to antibiotic resistance, the infection takes a particularly long time to treat.
In a communicated reporting on research on the subject, Médecins Sans Frontière warns: “although several treatment regimens for MDR-TB now exist in the world, many people still receive traditional long treatments (up to 24 months)ineffective (only 59% treatment success in 2018) often causing serious side effects, including acute psychosis and permanent deafness. “Patients on these regimens must ingest up to 14,000 pills over the course of treatment, and some must endure months of painful daily injections.”
“For too long, the MDR-TB represents a formidable enemy against which treatment options are limited and poorly tolerated. Today, we know that several innovative, shortened and entirely oral regimens will allow treatment of MDR-TB individualized and focused on the needs of the patient. This marks a key moment in the fight against a disease that affects the most vulnerable populations.”concludes Lorenzo Guglielmettidoctor, project director endTB For Doctors Without Borders.