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First non-antibiotic drug for TB to be trialled on humans in 3 years

In just three to four years, humans will be able to make use of the first non-antibiotic drug to treat tuberculosis that has been now developed and tried on animals by a group of scientists from the University of Manchester.

The first non-antibiotic drug for tuberculosis to successfully treat animals has become a reality, thanks to a group of scientists at the University of Manchester. Not just this, the researchers claim that this drug will be trialled on humans affected with TB in the next three to four years. It took ten long years for the researchers to develop this compound.

The uniqueness of this drug lies in the fact that it targets the defences of Mycobacterium tuberculosis instead of attacking the bacteria itself. This drug can take out its exceedingly commonly antibiotic strains, suggest the researchers. The research was funded by the Medical Research Council and it appeared in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.

Despite the existence of an anti-tuberculosis vaccine, about 1.7 million people lose their lives to TB every year across the world and 7.3 million were diagnosed and treated in 2018. This number has increased from 6.3 million in 2016. Africa, India and China are considered to be the top 3 countries to have maximum number of TB patients. London too is often described as the TB capital in Europe.

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At present the patients are made to consume strong antibiotics for over 6 to 8 months. While they have to go through various unpleasant side effects, there remains a 20% risk that the disease will come back.

Professor Lydia Tabernero, the project leader, reportedly said: "The fact that the animal studies showed our compound, which doesn't kill the bacteria directly, resulted in a significant reduction in the bacterial burden is remarkable.For more than 60 years, the only weapon doctors have been able to use against TB is antibiotics. But resistance is becoming an increasingly worrying problem and the prolonged treatment is difficult and distressing for patients."

According to a recent media report, she added: "And with current treatments, there's no guarantee the disease will be eliminated: antibiotics do not clear the infection and the risk of being infected with drug-resistant bacteria is very high. But by disabling this clandestine bacteria's defences we're thrilled to find a way that enhances the chances of the body's immune system to do its job, and thus eliminate the pathogen."

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