An international research team has developed a new antibiotic to fight against tuberculosis

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Today, some diseases seem to be from another era. While this may be surprising, tuberculosis currently represents a major global health problem.

All it takes is a look at the figures to realise how serious the situation is. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), more than 8 million people developed tuberculosis in 2012, while the number of worldwide deaths reached 1.3 million.

If we focus on the MDR data (Multi-Drug Resistant Tuberculosis), whose treatment with current drugs does not usually provide good results, we will find 450,000 new cases in 2012 and a total of 170,000 deaths globally.

Tuberculosis: a disease that continues to be present in our lives

Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection caused by the Mycobacterium tuberculosis germ, which mainly affects our lungs and can be transmitted through coughing, sneezing or even casual conversations. In addition, tuberculosis poses an even higher risk of infection in patients with a weakened immune system. 

Some symptoms of tuberculosis:

  • Severe coughing that can last for several weeks
  • Coughing up blood or mucus
  • Weight loss
  • Presence of fever
  • Weakness
  • Sweating

As the WHO figures have shown us, it is a disease that can prove to be fatal. Therefore, it is especially important to continue launching research programmes to improve existing drugs or develop new drugs that increase the probability of success in the treatment of tuberculosis.

Making an old antibiotic into a new defence against tuberculosis

The good news is that an international team of scientists, coordinated by Professor Richard E. Lee at St. Jude Research Hospital in Memphis (USA), is developing a new family of drugs that they have begun to call espectinamidas from an existing antibiotic, spectinomycin, which happened to be ineffective against tuberculosis.

A reengineering process has driven researchers to ensure that these changes to the original antibiotic offer resistance to the development of tuberculosis. The problem with some existing antibiotics up till now was the way in which the bacteria continuously rejected or expelled them. The new chemical structure of the espactinamidas seems to have overcome this problem.

The progress of this research, which in the future may allow the development of more effective antibiotics in the treatment of tuberculosis, has recently been published by the prestigious scientific journal “Nature Medicine”.

As is always the case with Best Doctors, we are concern on this type of research and development in pursuit of eradicating diseases that are still serious once and for all. Our commitment is to put at the patient’s disposal the best health professionals in the world and the most important medical and scientific information.

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