WEDNESDAY, June 6 (HealthDay News) -- More than four decades after the last introduction of fresh treatments for tuberculosis, a new medication for multidrug-resistant strains of the global scourge has shown promise in a multinational trial.
Scientists in nine countries tested delamanid -- which inhibits the production of mycolic acid, a key component of tuberculosis (TB) bacteria. In a phase 2 trial with 481 patients, the drug cleared TB from the sputum cultures of nearly half the patients within two months, the study said.
"I think it's very important that we have, in delamanid, the potential for a new drug in the first class of new drugs in 40 years," said study co-author Lawrence Geiter, vice president of global clinical development for Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co., the Tokyo-based developer of delamanid. "It's going to enhance treatment options."
The study is published June 7 in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Considered one of the world's deadliest infectious diseases, TB or its complications kill about 1.5 million people globally each year. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that nearly 5 percent of all TB cases worldwide are multidrug-resistant, with 440,000 cases occurring annually. If first-line drugs such as rifampin and isoniazid fail, second-line drugs must be taken for up to two years, and a cure is far from guaranteed.
Though TB rates fell to an all-time low in the United States in 2011, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that infection rates were seven times higher for Hispanics, eight times higher for blacks and 25 times higher for Asians than whites.
"Any time you can add a new TB drug with a novel mechanism that kills bacteria, it's an important advance," said Dr. Eric Nuermberger, an associate professor of medicine at the Center for Tuberculosis Research at Johns Hopkins University School of Med
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