Why is long-term therapy required to cure tuberculosis?

Mar 20, 2007

Understanding why other bacteria become resistant to antibiotics could hold the key to understanding why TB takes so long to cure, say researchers in a policy paper in PLoS Medicine.

Patients with TB typically have to take 4 antibiotics for 2 months and then continue 2 of these antibiotics for an additional 4 months. Why is such long treatment needed?

Lalita Ramakrishnan (University of Washington) and colleagues say that traditionally the answer was thought to lie in the fact that the tuberculosis microbe achieves a TB-specific "dormant" or non-replicating state in an infected person. Because virtually all types of antibiotics act only on replicating bacteria, the dormant state of TB is thought to render it resistant to treatment.

But the authors now challenge this traditional view. In the light of data on treating human TB and other bacterial infections, they suggest that the non-replicating state is not TB-specific and that the number of non-replicating bacteria correlates with total bacterial burden rather than TB-specific pathology.

"This correlation between bacterial burden and time to cure is not unique to TB, as it has been found in other bacterial infections, both acute and chronic," they say.

Understanding and countering the ways in which bacteria in general (rather than TB specifically) become resistant to antibiotics, say Ramakrishnan and colleagues, "may hold the key to reducing the duration of treatment of all recalcitrant bacterial infections, including TB."

Source: Public Library of Science

Explore further: US scientists make embryonic stem cells from adult skin

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New light shed on key bacterial immune system

Apr 07, 2014

New insights into a surprisingly flexible immune system present in bacteria for combating viruses and other foreign DNA invaders have been revealed by researchers from New Zealand's University of Otago and ...

Exploring a microbial arms race

Apr 07, 2014

A rapid evolutionary "arms race" between bacteria and the killer viruses they contain has been observed by a UNSW-led team of scientists in a sophisticated genetic study of the micro-organisms.

Recommended for you

Leeches help save woman's ear after pit bull mauling

Apr 18, 2014

(HealthDay)—A pit bull attack in July 2013 left a 19-year-old woman with her left ear ripped from her head, leaving an open wound. After preserving the ear, the surgical team started with a reconnection ...

New pain relief targets discovered

Apr 17, 2014

Scientists have identified new pain relief targets that could be used to provide relief from chemotherapy-induced pain. BBSRC-funded researchers at King's College London made the discovery when researching ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Cancer stem cells linked to drug resistance

Most drugs used to treat lung, breast and pancreatic cancers also promote drug-resistance and ultimately spur tumor growth. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have discovered ...

Making graphene in your kitchen

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.