Shortened TB treatment course has promising results
Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) - November 1, 2014 - 12:00am

BARCELONA – A study on a “dramatically shortened” treatment course for people suffering from multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) had shown promising results, boosting efforts to have a more effective treatment protocol for patients.

Based on the preliminary data from a study coordinated by The Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union), the outcomes of the use of the treatment regiments were “positive.”

The study, conducted in nine African countries including Benin, Burundi, Cameroon, Cote d’lvoire, Niger, Central African Republic and Democratic Republic of Congo, was presented during the 45th World Conference on Lung Health here.

It covered 208 patients who completed four months of treatment.

In sputum tests, where a laboratory technician examines a sample of a patient’s sputum through a light microscope to visually confirm the presence of TB bacteria, 74 percent of patients tested negative.

In culture tests, where a test sample is placed in a petri dish to see if it will grow cultures of bacteria, 94 percent of tests were negative.

“Together, these preliminary results suggest a high treatment success rate for the shortened, nine-month treatment option,” a report showed.

Another study conducted in Niger showed that 34 patients with MDT-TB had an 88.2 percent treatment success rate when administering a nine-month treatment regimen.

All but one patient who had received follow-up TB tests for six months after finishing treatment remained free of TB.

The researchers will continue monitoring outcomes 24 months after the treatment.

According to I.D. Rusen, senior vice president for research and development of the International Union Against TB and Lung Disease of The Union, the “preliminary results from observational studies are a promising indication that a shortened treatment option for patients with MDR-TB is within reach.”

“Treatment for MDR-TB is one of the most grueling experiences for both patients and healthcare workers alike. Our hope is that shorter treatment options will lead to higher rates of treatment success,” Rusen said.

The standard treatment for MDR-TB currently lasts up to 24 months.

A nine-month treatment option, therefore, has the potential to make MDR-TB treatment significantly less burdensome for both patients and healthcare workers.

Globally, around 480,000 people have developed resistance to treatment and some 210,000 have died from the disease in 2013.

MDR-TB is TB that is resistant to at least isoniazid and rifampicin, two of the most important first-line drugs usually used to treat the lung disease.

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC AND DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO INTERNATIONAL UNION AGAINST LUNG DISEASE OF THE UNION LUNG HEALTH NIGER PATIENTS RUSEN TREATMENT UNION AGAINST TUBERCULOSIS AND LUNG DISEASE WORLD CONFERENCE
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