In 2018, around 1.5 million people died from tuberculosis (TB) — an infectious disease that mainly affects the lungs. A major obstacle in the clinical treatment of TB is the long therapy time required to clear the infection. An infected patient needs to take antibiotics for over 6 to 9 months to prevent a relapse — a duration so long that many discontinue their medications.
A new study by researchers could be a breakthrough in our fight against tuberculosis that has a long history. The researchers have identified an enzyme in the bacteria that causes TB, inhibiting which could kill the bacteria effectively. A first of its kind study, the researchers hope this enzyme can be targeted to develop effective drugs against TB without any side effects.
A recent report by the World Health Organization estimates that about two million deaths occur every year due to tuberculosis (TB). An alarming dimension to this problem is the fact that some strains of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), the causative agent of TB, have developed resistance to some antibiotics used to kill them, leading to the emergence of ‘drug resistant TB’ and causing a global threat. Drug resistance is a way by which bacteria respond to the drug stress they face. Due to improper and irregular use of antibiotics by patients, not all bacteria may be killed, leading to the emergence of drug resistant strains that survive even when further doses of the drug are administered. Now, a team of researchers at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, led by Prof. Nagasuma Chandra and Prof. Amit Singh, have explored the mechanism behind the development of resistance to a front-line anti-tubercular drug called isoniazid, used widely in the clinic.