Washington, June 19: Scientists have hit upon a novel drug that attacks the tuberculosis bacteria, a finding that could prove to be an effective tool in treating the dreaded disease, says a study.
The researchers at the New Jersey Medical School of University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) discovered the drug that cripples the TB bug by dissolving its protective fatty coating, a finding that could eventually be used to improve TB treatment in humans.
The study has been posted online by Nature Chemical Biology.
TB is caused by infection with the Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) and is the second biggest cause of deaths worldwide, second only to HIV/AIDS, reports Science Daily.
With drug-resistant strains of Mtb on the rise, there is a critical need for more effective anti-TB agents.
"Mtb is a little ball of soap," said lead author David Alland, professor of medicine and director of the Centre for Emerging and Re-emerging Pathogens at New Jersey Medical School, describing the meshwork of long fatty acids that make up the bug's protective cell wall.
There are few anti-TB drugs that disrupt this coat. But so far no single drug has been able to kill the bacteria completely.
The researchers screened for agents that trigger expression of a bacterial gene that gets turned on when cell wall synthesis is compromised.
They discovered a class of compound called thiophenes that killed the Mtb in culture without the emergence of drug resistance. And the combination of thiophene and the existing coat-busting drug isoniasid achieved 100 percent bacterial killing.