Can an Old Anti-Parasite Drug Fight TB?
December 11, 2000
Treating tuberculosis (TB) has become more difficult since the appearance of TB bacteria that can resist more than one antibiotic. Such forms of TB are called MDR-TB or multidrug resistant. In the past 30 years, no new antibiotic has been specifically developed to fight TB. As a result, some researchers have turned to testing existing compounds to assess their anti-TB activity.
One drug that has such potential is the antibiotic paromomycin. An oral form of this drug called Humatin is used to treat parasitic infections of the intestine in humans. Humatin is not well absorbed, so for parasitic infections in the rest of the body doctors use the injectable form of paromomycin called aminosidine.
Researchers in South Africa conducted a short study of aminosidine in humans with TB. The researchers found that at a dose of 15 mg/kg of body weight per day, aminosidine significantly reduced levels of TB-causing bacteria. Their preliminary findings suggest the possibility that when used in combination with other antibiotics, aminosidine may be as useful as standard anti-TB regimens. The fact that aminosidine has to be injected daily may limit its use. However, this mode of administration certainly has not stopped aminosidine from being used to treat another parasitic infection -- leishmaniasis -- in India.
These preliminary findings from South Africa are exciting and need to be confirmed in larger studies of combination anti-TB therapy before doctors can be certain about the role of aminosidine in the treatment of TB.
For More InformationAntimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy
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