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Novel antibiotic shows promise in shortening treatment duration of tuberculosis

December 9, 2004 - Scientists at Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research and Development (J&JPRD) have identified a novel anti-tuberculosis (TB) compound that works better and faster than the current standard of care in mouse models of TB infection. Also, preliminary studies in healthy human volunteers show that the drug is safe. The findings are published in the December 9 issue of Science Express, the online version of the journal Science, and will be published in the January 14 print edition. The studies are reported by scientists at J&JPRD and colleagues at the Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control in Solna, Sweden, and Piti-Salptrire School of Medicine in Paris, France.

The compound, called R207910, belongs to a new family of anti-TB agents called diarylquinolines (DARQ) and appears to have better, and more differentiated antibiotic properties than currently used drugs for TB, individually and in combination. R207910 was better at clearing infection from the lungs of mice than the triple cocktail regimen currently recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). Also, cocktail regimens containing R207910 cleared infection in mice in half the time than the currently used regimen.

"The drug acts through a novel mechanism of action, and is therefore active against all multi-drug resistant (MDR) strains of TB tested so far," says Dr. Koen Andries, D.V.M., Ph.D., Distinguished Research Fellow, Antimicrobial Research at J&JPRD. "A combination including R207910 but excluding rifampin, one of the current TB drugs, looks especially promising. A combination excluding rifampin would be compatible with anti-HIV drugs, making it suitable for treating patients co-infected with HIV and TB."

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared TB a global health crisis. TB now infects one-third of the world's population and causes close to nine million new cases of active TB and 2 million deaths each year. Unfortunately, many TB strains h
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