A new treatment being tested for its effect against drug-resistant tuberculosis strains has been shown to be effective at killing latent bacteria.
The findings mean that the investigational drug, R207910, could lead to improved and shortened treatments for the potentially deadly disease.
The treatment was tested on dormant Mycobacterium tuberculosis in three different laboratory models of latency by researchers at pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson.
The protein ATP synthase is essential for making cellular energy (ATP) in actively replicating TB. R207910 works by targeting that protein.
Even dormant bacteria, which are essentially physiologically “turned off”, still need to produce small quantities of ATP to survive, the researchers reasoned. As such, a block in ATP synthesis might be an Achilles heel for killing dormant bacteria.
The theory proved to be correct, with the study finding that R207190 was able to kill dormant bacteria by more than 95%. This is in contrast with current drugs such as isoniazid, which had no effect.
Around one-third of the world’s population is infected with latent TB and are at risk of developing active TB during their lifetime.
The study was published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.
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