TB Alliance: our wishes for the fight against TB by 2030, amid hope for simpler TB treatment

As part of the Imagine2030 campaign we want to show that innovation is not just something for the future. Biomedical advances being made right now will shape how we fight diseases of poverty in the future, and are delivering changes every day. It will be these advances, and the organisations behind them, that will bring us closer to our goal: an end of diseases of poverty by 2030.

For our focus on Tuberculosis in February 2017, the CEO of TB Alliance, Dr. Mel Spigelman, shares his views on how we are progressing in the fight against the disease, and his hopes for 2030. Take a look at the video, and read the dispatch fro the forefront of the fight against TB underneath!

TB Alliance: New hope for simpler TB treatment, even for the most drug-resistant cases

There are very few diseases left that are curable but still require months and months if not years of treatment. Tuberculosis (TB) is one of them, and over 10 million people are sickened by it each year.

Today’s tuberculosis treatments were developed 50 years ago. They need to be modernized. Basic treatment for TB infections that are not drug resistant lasts six months and consists of four potent antibiotics. For infections that are resistant to any or all of these four drugs, treatment is longer and much more complicated—up to thousands of pills plus injections for up to two years or more, and horrible side effects. Drug-resistant TB is a major source of antimicrobial resistance, which has emerged as an urgent global health challenge.

Current treatment doesn’t always work. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), only one fifth of those needing treatment for multi-drug resistant (MDR) TB receive it, and only half of those with who receive treatment are cured. Those with extensively drug-resistant (XDR) TB have it worse—just over one quarter of those who receive treatment are cured.

New treatments in development

Today, however, there are two experimental drug regimens that have the potential to simplify everything. Late-stage clinical trial results, presented at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Seattle, Washington this month, gave patients and their caregivers hope for improved, shorter and simpler treatments for all types of TB, including the most difficult to treat cases.

Two new drugs—pretomanid (Pa) and bedaquiline (B)—form the backbone of these regimens. When combined with moxifloxacin (M) and pyrazinamide (Z), the BPaMZ regimen, studied in TB Alliance’s NC-005 clinical trial, shows the potential to cure all but the most drug-resistant forms of TB within six months.

When the backbone is combined with linezolid (L), the BPaL regimen, studied in TB Alliance’s Nix-TB clinical trial, shows the potential to reduce treatment time for XDR-TB from two years or more to six months—the amount of time currently needed to cure the simplest version of the disease. Expanded study of the BPaL regimen is expected later in 2017.

These results need to be confirmed in expanded studies. If the new clinical trials verify that the new treatments work, health professionals around the world will only need two versions of TB treatment—both with a simple set of daily pills to be taken for no longer than six months.

TB killed almost 2 million people in 2015. By 2030, we can solve this deadly killer.

Learn more about TB Alliance here.

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