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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

UK : TB study points to drugs to halt lung destruction

Article from Reuters :

" LONDON, April 25 (Reuters) : Scientists have identified a key enzyme responsible for destroying lung tissue in tuberculosis (TB) and say the finding could lead swiftly to new treatments for the highly infectious disease.

In a study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation published on Monday, researchers said a drug already shown to be safe in humans and partially developed by Roche (ROG.VX), known as RO323555, was effective at suppressing the enzyme's activity driven by TB infection in human cells.

The findings suggest this and similar so-called MMP inhibitor drugs might prevent lung damage in TB patients and help limit the spread of the disease, they said.

TB is a worldwide pandemic that kills around 1.7 million people a year and is caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The infection destroys patients' lung tissue, causing them to cough up the bacteria, which then spread through the air and can be inhaled by others.

Experts say the worldwide number of new cases -- more than 9 million a year -- is higher than at any other time in history.

TB patients need months of antibiotic treatment, but drug-resistant strains are becoming increasingly common and the World Health Organisation has warned that these infections could affect more than 2 million people by 2015."

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