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Common drug may fight TB

Thursday July 9th, 2015

A common over-the-counter drug may be effective against tuberculosis, researchers have revealed.

The Swiss study pin-pointed the stomach medicine lansoprazole after tests on thousands of drugs.

Dr Stewart Cole and colleagues at the Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne, Switzerland, used an ingenious method of testing drugs for their efficiency for treating tuberculosis (TB).

The robot system exposes potentially-useful drugs to lung cells that have been grown in the lab and infected with TB. So-called 'high-throughput screens' such as this work through large numbers of drugs quickly and accurately in a day, say the team. If older manual methods were used, the process would take months.

After testing thousands of approved drugs, the scientists identified the antacid drug lansoprazole (sold as Prevacid).

In the journal Nature Communications today (8 July), the team say that lansoprazole works against TB by killing the bacterium after human cells have broken it down into a compound that contains sulphur. Lansoprazole targets a specific enzyme needed for TB to make energy.

Lansoprazole is a proton-pump inhibitor, preventing the stomach from pumping too much acid and avoiding heartburn and ulcers.

Dr Cole says: "Proton-pump inhibitors are both safe and widely sold around the world. Being highly active against drug-resistant strains of M. tuberculosis, this novel class of drugs provides us with an excellent opportunity to treat tuberculosis."

At present, TB is second only to AIDS as the top single-agent killer globally. Due to resistance to TB drugs, there is an urgent need for new treatments. With new drugs taking over ten years to undergo trials and become approved for human use, it is far better for compounds that have already been approved to be repurposed as anti-TB medications.

Rybniker, J. et al. Lansoprazole is an antituberculous prodrug targeting cytochrome bc1. Nature Communications 08 July 2015 doi: 10.1038/ncomms8659

Tags: Europe | Pharmaceuticals | Respiratory | Traveller Health | World Health

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