'Repurposed' anti-parasite drug shows promise as new TB treatment

(Medical Xpress)—A well-established family of drugs used to treat parasitic diseases is showing surprising potential as a therapy for tuberculosis (TB), according to new research from University of British Columbia microbiologists.

The findings, published online this week in the journal , are based on in vitro tests of the avermectin family of drugs. Discovered nearly 40 years ago, the drugs are commonly used in the developing world to eliminate the that cause and elephantiasis but have been thought to be ineffective against . The UBC study shows that in the lab, the drugs actually killed the bacteria that cause TB, including drug resistant forms.

"These drugs are cheap, routinely produced by pharmaceutical companies, and, in many cases, approved for humans use," says UBC researcher Santiago Ramón-García, a co-author on the paper. "So the jump from lab bench to clinic could be much quicker."

"In addition, the drug concentrations effective in vitro indicate members of this family might be very valuable additions to the small repertoire of drugs we have to fight multi-, which have very low probabilities of being cured."

The international collaboration was lead by scientists in UBC's Department of Microbiology and Immunology associated with UBC's Centre for Tuberculosis Research and the Neglected Global Diseases Initiative.

"This underscores the great potential for investments in research to find new uses for approved drugs or synergistic drug combinations," says co-author and UBC microbiologist Charles Thompson.

Further studies are needed to assess the drugs' clinical application for treating TB. UBC researchers are now working with animal models to determine effective dosage levels and regimens. They will also study whether avermectins could be combined with other drugs to create effective therapies.

Related Stories

Drug-resistant tuberculosis rife in China

Dec 11, 2008

Levels of drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) in China are nearly twice the global average. Nationwide research published in the open access journal BMC Infectious Diseases has shown that almost 10% of Chinese TB cases are re ...

Drug-resistant TB blamed on Indian treatment flaws

Mar 23, 2012

(AP) -- India's inadequate government-run tuberculosis treatment programs and a lack of regulation of the sale of drugs that fight it are responsible for the spiraling number of drug-resistant cases that are difficult to ...

Recommended for you

Sierra Leone faces criticism over Ebola shutdown

16 hours ago

Sierra Leone began the second day of a 72-hour nationwide shutdown aimed at containing the spread of the deadly Ebola virus on Saturday amid criticism that the action was a poorly planned publicity stunt.

Presence of peers ups health workers' hand hygiene

Sep 19, 2014

(HealthDay)—The presence of other health care workers improves hand hygiene adherence, according to a study published in the October issue of Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology.

Sierra Leone streets deserted as shutdown begins

Sep 19, 2014

Sierra Leone's normally chaotic capital resembled a ghost town on Friday as residents were confined to their homes for the start of a three-day lockdown aimed at halting the deadly Ebola epidemic.

Sierra Leone launches controversial Ebola shutdown

Sep 19, 2014

Sierra Leone on Friday launched a controversial three-day shutdown to contain the deadly spread of the Ebola virus, as the UN Security Council declared the deadly outbreak a threat to world peace.

User comments