Cure at last for multi-drug-resistant TB

Friday March 31 2017

Sister Veronicah Wanjiru displays a message at the Mbungoni Catholic Clinic in Mombasa on February 26, 2016 that calls for the fight against tuberculosis (TB). FILE PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Sister Veronicah Wanjiru displays a message at the Mbungoni Catholic Clinic in Mombasa on February 26, 2016 that calls for the fight against tuberculosis (TB). Researchers in the US have found a a way of making the deadly multi-drug-resistant TB pathogen susceptible to existing drugs. FILE PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By ANGELA OKETCH

Researchers have finally found a cure for the multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis.

The researchers from the United States in recent weeks announced that they have found a way of making the deadly pathogen susceptible to existing tuberculosis drugs.

The research published on March 17 in the Science Translation Medicine, involved the use of Ethionamide, which is a second-line TB treatment used to combat MDR tuberculosis infections.

The study titled “Biological version of malware reverses antibiotic resistance in TB,” found that Ethionamide has limited use because of its side effects, but these, too, may be reduced if this surprising intervention pans out.

The author of the study Dr Eric Nuermberger, a drug development researcher at the Johns Hopkins University Centre for Tuberculosis Research in Baltimore, Maryland, says that from the study researchers have come up with a new way of targeting drug-resistant bacteria.

“It has exciting clinical applications,” Dr Nuermberger says.

For long, the mycobacterium that causes tuberculosis has become resistant to drugs.

Globally, according to the World Health Organisation, new TB infections totalled 10.4 million in 2015, killing nearly two million people. Nearly half a million newly infected a patients harbour MDR strains of the disease.

“The use of Ethionamide in the study has proved that it has no effect until the bacteria takes it up and converts the compound into an active form,” said Dr Nuermberger.

Kenya is a high-burden tuberculosis country in East African region. Kenya had more than 81,000 people suffering from TB in 2015. TB is classified as the fifth leading cause of death in Kenya from the Economic Survey 2016.

In 2015, According to the Ministry of Health statistics, 305 cases of Multi-drug resistant TB were reported in Kenya.

Kenya was the first in the world to roll out improved and pleasantly flavoured TB medicines for children. Children will no longer have to take two regimes of TB drugs but have TB treatment in the right doses.
Nearly 7,000 infants and children in Kenya had TB in 2015.
In Uganda, according to data released by National TB and Leprosy Programme (NTLP) in 2015, nearly about 4,000 people die of the disease every year.
Over 44,000 patients with TB were detected in 2015 but a bigger percentage of patients remain undetected. Uganda reported 226 cases of MDR-TB in 2015.

Tanzania, According to WHO is number 15 among the 22 countries with the highest TB prevalence.
The number of TB patients has increased from 63,829 in 2012, to 65,000 in 2015.