Scientists from the State University of Michigan have revealed that tuberculosis could be treatable with common glaucoma medicine. The study was recently presented in the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.
Tuberculosis is, unfortunately, a common bacteria that affects up to 2 billion people on this planet according to the World Health Organization. In most cases it is held in check by our immune system. But in 10% of all infected people the diseases bypasses our body’s defenses and becomes active.
In this stage, the disease entrenches itself in our lungs and become highly dangerous, having a more than 50% mortality rate if left untreated. Antibiotics can be used as a treatment, but they have to be administered for long periods of time. Furthermore, tuberculosis is a notoriously resilient bacteria, being often able to adapt to medicine and develop immunity traits.
But the current research suggests that the disease could be alternatively treated with ethoxzolamide. This substance is not meant to increase the efficiency of antibiotic treatment, but it helps our body to fight the disease from its earlier stages.
Tuberculosis has also evolved to become increasingly efficient at dodging our immune system. It can detect incoming white cells by changes in the blood’s acidity, having time to adapt accordingly. Ethoxzolamide effectively prevents the bacteria from detecting these changes in its medium, leaving it wide open to attack.
The substance is often found in medicine used to treat glaucoma, so it should not be too hard or costly for TB patients to access this treatment. The team’s approach to finding this cure was a very simple, but efficient one. They tested over 273,00 substances on the bacteria in order to find one that could affect it, making use of a synthetic biosensor developed some time ago by lead researcher Robert Abramovitch.
The substance was successfully used to weaken the disease within infected mice. Abramovitch stresses that this compound will probably not kill all the bacteria within an individual on its own. But it may not have to, he adds.
Ethoxzolamide could have the potential to work in tandem with existing antibiotic treatments, though this has not been tested yet. If it is successful in doing so, it could theoretically allow antibiotics to kill the bacteria faster, preventing it from having the chance to develop immunities.
Tuberculosis the second most deadly infectious disease in the world after HIV. Perhaps once developed, this treatment would reduce the number of TB infections, particularly in developing countries where many do not have access to more potent antibiotics.
Image Source: www.microbiologyinfo.com