In 2015 alone, 2.8 million people developed tuberculosis in India. As doctors, policy makers and other stakeholders continue to work towards combating TB, a group of scientists from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) developed two forms of bacteria that can aggressively fight TB.
Most of the antibiotics used to treat TB target the metabolism of mycobacteria (that includes Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the causative agent of tuberculosis), but the IISc team has developed molecules that end up inhibiting the stress response pathway of the mycobacteria instead. When it does that, it automatically cuts off the mycobacteria from getting any form of nutrients, thus killing it in the process.
The treatment through this method might actually be faster and more aggressive than other traditional antibiotics.
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Dr. Kirtimaan Syal from the Division of Biological Sciences, IISc, who was also the first author of the paper that was published in the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, spoke to The Hindu about how the molecules treat TB. Syal said, “The major reason for prolonged treatment of TB is the bacterium’s ability to persist in dormant form, which is tolerant to most antibiotics used in the treatment regimen. So inhibition of (p)ppGpp-mediated persistence could help in shortening the treatment regime, dealing with the emergence of multiple drug resistance and treatment of chronic infections.”
Both molecules that were synthesised by the team act as ideal inhibitors and neither is toxic to human cells, thereby making it a safe form of treatment. India has a notoriously high TB occurrence rate — 27 percent of the total number of TB cases reported across the world, according to statistics from the World Health Organization.
WHO has also noted that every three minutes, there are two deaths caused in India due to TB. An advancement like this can go a long way in saving the lives of millions.