Shorter TB treatment could cut deaths

Shorter TB treatment could cut deaths

What did the poet Keats, the composer Chopin and the writer Emily Bronte have in common?

They all died before 1850 — of tuberculosis (TB), a disease we are still struggling to control a century and a half later. Over the last 25 years, TB has developed resistance to many antibiotics. Worldwide, it now kills at least 2 million people annually. Effective treatments are complicated, requiring sufferers to take drug cocktails over long periods (6 months or more). However, some new candidate drugs are currently being tested; some of these would allow shorter treatment periods.

People who default on treatment more are likely to:

  • Develop drug-resistant forms of the bacteria
  • Become infectious again, and so pass the disease on
  • So, in theory, cutting the duration of TB therapy could slow the disease's spread, by reducing the chance of patients failing to complete treatment.

This hypothesis is supported by a study published in PLoS Medicine by a group of researchers that included Jamie Lloyd-Smith from CIDD.

Using mathematical models based on real epidemic data, they found that cutting treatment duration to two months might prevent roughly a fifth of new cases and a quarter of all deaths in South East Asia between 2012 and 2030. They also show that the impact could be even greater where treatment default is currently high, and where shorter treatments are accompanied by better case detection.

Written By: Joshua A. Salomon, James O. Lloyd-Smith, Wayne M. Getz, Stephen Resch, Marн_a S. Sнзnchez, Travis C. Porco, & Martien W. Borgdorff

Paper Url:

Journal: 3: e273

Journal Reference: 3: e273

Paper Id: 10.1371/journal.pmed.0030273