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Hopkins scientist to direct international studies of antibiotic as new treatment for tuberculosis

00 patients worldwide, was to be announced today at a news conference during the 36th annual World Conference on Lung Health in Paris, France. Other related studies of moxifloxacin will be led by Stephen Gillespie, M.D., of the University College-London, and Andrew Nunn, M.D., of the British Medical Research Council.

The GATB estimates that 1 billion people worldwide will be infected with tuberculosis by the year 2020, of whom 200 million will fall ill and 35 million will die. The group is developing moxifloxacin and other drugs in an effort to cure more patients by shortening the length of time it takes to treat the disease.

"Shortening the time required to cure the disease could save millions of lives in the coming years," Chaisson says.

Chaisson has more than two decades of experience researching the tuberculosis epidemic, especially its impact on the health of people in developing countries, where most of the 9 million new cases of the disease occur each year. Current treatments for tuberculosis, Chaisson says, consist of a regimen of four antibiotic drugs usually, but not always, given in view of a caregiver. Called Directly Observed Therapy Short-Course, or DOTS, the drugs must be taken several times daily for six to eight months. Although DOTS cures 95 percent of those treated, the lengthy treatment period has proven a problem for patients, who sometimes miss taking their drugs on time, minimizing the therapy's effectiveness.

Chaisson notes that multidrug-resistant strains of the tubercle bacillus, formally known as Mycobacterium tuberculosis, are spreading at a rate of 300,000 newly diagnosed cases each year that cannot be treated by current drugs. "New options are needed, and they need to be both effective and easier for patients to tolerate," he adds.

Chaisson says that substituting moxifloxacin for one of the key ingredients in DOTS could shorten the treatment period by nearly two months, to three to fou
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Contact: David March
dmarch1@jhmi.edu
410-955-1534
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
17-Oct-2005


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