Vancouver, BC – While tuberculosis is not as widespread as it used to be, in 2011, 8.7 million people around the world contracted this disease and 1.4 million died from it, according to the World Health Organization. Some newly discovered strains of TB are now resistant to antibiotics.
According to new research from University of British Columbia microbiologists, published online in the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, the avermectin family of drugs, usually used to treat parasitic diseases, has potential as a therapy for tuberculosis (TB). The drugs are commonly used in the developing world to eliminate the parasitic worms that cause river blindness and elephantiasis, but the UBC study shows that in the lab, the drugs actually killed the bacteria that cause TB, including drug resistant forms.
“These drugs are cheap, routinely produced by pharmaceutical companies, and, in many cases, approved for humans use,” says UBC researcher Santiago Ramón-García, a co-author on the paper. “So the jump from lab bench to clinic could be much quicker.”
The international collaboration was lead by scientists in UBC’s Department of Microbiology and Immunology associated with UBC’s Centre for Tuberculosis Research and the Neglected Global Diseases Initiative.