Research highlight

Microbiology: Improving tuberculosis therapies

Nature Communications

January 25, 2017

Optimised combinations and doses of antibiotics are shown to greatly reduce treatment time in a mouse model of tuberculosis, reports a study published in Nature Communications.

Current antibiotic therapies for tuberculosis usually involve taking a combination of four antibiotics for six to eight months. This regimen is often associated with adverse side effects and many patients fail to complete the treatment. Marcus Horwitz and colleagues test a subset of the many possible combinations of antibiotics and doses in infected mice, and analyse this information using a mathematical model to predict the most effective drug-dose combinations. They go on to show that two of the promising new treatments kill tuberculosis bacteria more rapidly and reduce treatment time to relapse-free cure by up to 75% in mice when compared with the standard treatment.

The authors have previously used a similar approach with an in vitro model of infection, using macrophages in culture instead of mice. However, it is important that the present work validates the safety and efficacy of the drug-dose combinations in living animals. Further studies are needed to examine whether the findings can be translated to humans.

doi: 10.1038/ncomms14183

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