Old antibiotic could be a new weapon to fight tuberculosis

Old antibiotic could be a new weapon to fight TB

(Medical Xpress) -- A cheap and safe antibiotic that is widely available in the developing world might have a new use as a tuberculosis (TB) treatment, according to new research.

TB kills almost 2 million people a year worldwide, and is increasingly becoming resistant to the antibiotics used to treat it, but there are few new drugs in the pipeline. Doxycycline was introduced in 1967 and is used to treat a wide range of bacterial infections, but until now has not been recognized as effective against TB. The new study, published in the American Journal of Respiratory and , suggests that doxycycline might stop the bacteria from growing and also prevent the disease from damaging the lungs.

Last year, researchers at Imperial College London discovered that TB increases the production of an enzyme called MMP-1, and that this enzyme is responsible for destroying .

Now they have found that doxycycline suppresses the production of the tissue-destroying enzyme in TB-infected . They also found that doxycycline directly inhibits the growth of the bacteria in – a surprising result since the drug has been widely used as an antibiotic for over 40 years but has not been considered effective against TB.

has remained unchanged for over 30 years, and totally drug-resistant strains are emerging, so there’s a real need for .” said Dr. Paul Elkington, from the Department of Medicine at Imperial College London, who led the study. “Because doxycycline is cheap, safe and widely available throughout the developing world, it may be a useful new treatment for TB that can be used in resource-poor settings. Our results so far are promising but we have only looked at human cells and animal models. We hope to carry out a clinical trial soon to test whether doxycycline is effective at combating TB in patients.”

The researchers found further evidence for the antibiotic effect of doxycycline in TB bacteria grown in a liquid broth. The higher the concentration of , the lower the rate of bacterial growth.

They also studied HIV-infected TB patients in South Africa to look for further evidence that MMP-1 is responsible for destroying lung tissue. They found that concentrations of this enzyme were suppressed in people with advanced HIV infection, explaining for the first time why such patients do not suffer from such extensive lung destruction when they get TB.

The Imperial team worked with collaborators at the University of Cape Town and the Health Protection Agency (HPA) at Porton Down. The research was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), the Wellcome Trust, the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre at Imperial, and the HPA.

More information: NF Walker et al. ‘Doxycycline and HIV infection suppress tuberculosis-induced matrix metalloproteinases.’ American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, published online 16 February 2012. , doi:10.1164/rccm.201110-1769OC

Related Stories

HIV/AIDS linked to drug resistant TB

Nov 16, 2006

U.S. scientists say a highly drug-resistant form of tuberculosis has been linked to HIV/AIDS in a study conducted in rural South Africa.

Recommended for you

Nigeria death shows Ebola can spread by air travel

10 hours ago

(AP)—Nigerian health authorities raced to stop the spread of Ebola on Saturday after a man sick with one of the world's deadliest diseases brought it by plane to Lagos, Africa's largest city with 21 million ...

Trial in salmonella outbreak to start in Georgia

10 hours ago

(AP)—Three people accused of scheming to manufacture and ship salmonella-tainted peanuts that killed nine people and sickened more than 700 are set to go to trial this week in Georgia.

Remote tribe members enter another village, catch flu

18 hours ago

Advocates for indigenous tribes are worried over incidents last month when some members of one of the last uncontacted tribes in the Peru/Brazil region, across borders, left their home in Peru and entered ...

Nigeria on red alert after first Ebola death

Jul 26, 2014

Nigeria was on alert against the possible spread of Ebola on Saturday, a day after the first confirmed death from the virus in Lagos, Africa's biggest city and the country's financial capital.

User comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

ironjustice
not rated yet Feb 20, 2012
Bacteria use iron to survive and proliferate. Increased iron is known to increase infection. Many of the antibiotics work on that principle , removing iron.

"Doxycycline possesses iron-chelating activity"