Gastric acid suppressant lansoprazole may target tuberculosis

November 21, 2017, University College London
This photomicrograph reveals Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria using acid-fast Ziehl-Neelsen stain; Magnified 1000 X. The acid-fast stains depend on the ability of mycobacteria to retain dye when treated with mineral acid or an acid-alcohol solution such as the Ziehl-Neelsen, or the Kinyoun stains that are carbolfuchsin methods specific for M. tuberculosis. Credit: public domain

A cheap and widely used drug, used to treat conditions such as heartburn, gastritis and ulcers, could work against the bacteria that cause tuberculosis (TB), according to new research from UCL and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

The study, published today in PLOS Medicine, found that people who used , as opposed to similar drugs omeprazole or pantoprazole, were a third less likely to develop TB.

In 2016, 10.4 million people fell ill with tuberculosis and it is in the top ten causes of death globally, killing more people than any other infectious disease. In England, there were a total of 5,664 TB cases in 2016 with London accounting for almost 40 per cent of all cases. According to a report by the London Assembly in 2015, one third of London's boroughs exceed the World Health Organisation "high incidence" threshold of 40 cases per 100,000 population per year and some boroughs have incidence levels as high as 113 per 100,000 people per year - significantly higher than countries such as Rwanda, Algeria, Iraq and Guatemala.

"It would be a major breakthrough to find a new drug with useful activity against Mycobacterium tuberculosis and a favourable side effect profile - particularly a drug like lansoprazole, which costs pennies," said first author Dr Tom Yates (UCL Institute for Global Health).

"Laboratory, animal and now epidemiological data are all consistent with lansoprazole acting against the bacteria that cause TB. While it is too early to say whether lansoprazole can be used to treat TB, we think there is a strong case for further study."

The researchers analysed data that had been routinely collected by general practices and hospitals in the UK and compared the incidence of TB in people taking lansoprazole with that in people taking omeprazole or pantoprazole. This research was prompted by a laboratory study, described in a 2015 paper in Nature Communications, finding that lansoprazole was effective at killing Mycobacterium tuberculosis, whilst other drugs in the same class had no effect.

In total, there were 527,364 new users of lansoprazole and 923,500 new users of omeprazole or pantoprazole. The findings show that, among people using lansoprazole, there were 10 cases of TB per 100,000 person years compared to 15.3 cases among those using omeprazole or pantoprazole.

In many parts of the world, particularly in Southern Africa, Eastern Europe and Central Asia is a major problem. Many of the existing drugs used to treat resistant TB have unacceptable side effects.

"We know that medications can have unintended effects; often these are harmful, but occasionally we also find unexpected benefits that may offer new hope for difficult to treat diseases," said senior author Dr Ian Douglas, Associate Professor of Pharmacoepidemiology, Electronic Health Records Group at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

"This study highlights how we can investigate possible new uses for medicines using the wealth of information recorded as part of routine healthcare in the UK. Tuberculosis is still a major health problem in many parts of the world, and the results of this study raise the possibility that lansoprazole, a well-established treatment for stomach complaints, may also be useful for treating ."

Explore further: The next anti-tuberculosis drug may already be in your local pharmacy

More information: PLOS Medicine (2017). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1002457

Related Stories

The next anti-tuberculosis drug may already be in your local pharmacy

July 7, 2015
Testing thousands of approved drugs, EPFL scientists have identified an unlikely anti-tuberculosis drug: the over-the-counter antacid lansoprazole (Prevacid).

Widely used heartburn and peptic ulcer medicines increase risk of rare kidney disease

March 24, 2014
(Medical Xpress)—New Zealanders taking a proton pump inhibitor (PPI), a type of medicine used to treat gastric acid reflux disorders and peptic ulcer disease, are at an increased risk of a rare kidney disease, according ...

Popular heartburn medication may increase ischemic stroke risk

November 15, 2016
A popular group of antacids known as proton pump inhibitors, or PPIs, used to reduce stomach acid and treat heartburn may increase the risk of ischemic stroke, according to preliminary research presented at the American Heart ...

Revealing the global burden of drug-resistant tuberculosis in children

June 27, 2016
A new study examining the burden of drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) across the globe has highlighted the importance of the disease among children.

Multidrug-resistant TB appears less transmissible in households than drug-susceptible TB

June 23, 2015
Some strains of multidrug resistant tuberculosis (MDRTB) may have a lower fitness (be less capable of spreading) than drug-susceptible tuberculosis bacteria, according to a study published this week in PLOS Medicine. The ...

New drug lead identified in fight against tuberculosis

March 1, 2017
Antibacterial compounds found in soil could spell the beginnings of a new treatment for tuberculosis, new research led by the University of Sydney has found.

Recommended for you

Creation of synthetic horsepox virus could lead to more effective smallpox vaccine

January 19, 2018
UAlberta researchers created a new synthetic virus that could lead to the development of a more effective vaccine against smallpox. The discovery demonstrates how techniques based on the use of synthetic DNA can be used to ...

Study ends debate over role of steroids in treating septic shock

January 19, 2018
The results from the largest ever study of septic shock could improve treatment for critically ill patients and save health systems worldwide hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

New approach could help curtail hospitalizations due to influenza infection

January 18, 2018
More than 700,000 Americans were hospitalized due to illnesses associated with the seasonal flu during the 2014-15 flu season, according to federal estimates. A radical new approach to vaccine development at UCLA may help ...

Zika virus damages placenta, which may explain malformed babies

January 18, 2018
Though the Zika virus is widely known for a recent outbreak that caused children to be born with microencephaly, or having a small head, and other malformations, scientists have struggled to explain how the virus affects ...

Certain flu virus mutations may compensate for fitness costs of other mutations

January 18, 2018
Seasonal flu viruses continually undergo mutations that help them evade the human immune system, but some of these mutations can reduce a virus's potency. According to new research published in PLOS Pathogens, certain mutations ...

Study reveals how MRSA infection compromises lymphatic function

January 17, 2018
Infections of the skin or other soft tissues with the hard-to-treat MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) bacteria appear to permanently compromise the lymphatic system, which is crucial to immune system function. ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.