I saw this piece in Izvestia today. There is some very good news for people infected with tuberculosis. A Russian medical research company has come up with a new drug which treats tuberculosis. Some existing treatments, unfortunately, have become ineffective, since the tuberculosis bacteria continues to evolve and develop resistance to antibiotics. Therefore, scientists try to stay one step ahead of this dangerous organism. One only need think of all the famous people throughout history — the great Polish composer Frederic Chopin is just one example — who were laid waste by this horrible disease. How much more they could have contributed to humanity, had they lived longer. And not to mention all the ordinary people who suffered and died at the hands of this microbe.
A Russian company named “Infectex” (Russian Инфектекс, the English version of the name sounds somewhat negative from a marketing point of view, IMHO) recently completed a series of clinical trials for a new med (working name is SQ109) which treats antibiotic-resistant TB. The med has already been registered in the State Register, and the plan is to put it out on the market as early as 2018. The General Manager of Infectex, Yana Deloveri, explained that the new drug works simultaneously against three different components of the bacterium.
The new drug was tested on 140 patients suffering from lung infection from antibiotic-resistant tuberculosis. The human trials took place in 7 different clinics in Russia. The subjects were divided into 2 groups. One group received the standard course of treatment. The second group received the standard course plus the new medication. Among the controls, effectiveness was 61%. Among the second group effectiveness was 80%. [It was not stated whether or not the experiment was conducted as a double-blind.]
According to Sergei Borisov, Assistant Director of the Tuberculosis Research Center of the city of Moscow, for most of the group receiving the SQ109, bacterial replication within their bodies ceased by the end of the first 6 months of treatment.
SQ109 is a small molecule which fights against the tuberculosis bacteria in its own right; and also enhances the effectiveness of other drugs such as Isoniazid, Rifampicin, and Bedaquiline.
According to Daniil Nemenov, who is the Medical Director of a Russian firm which invests in Biotechnology, SQ109 is the first major new anti-tuberculosis drug to appear in the last 40 years: “Treating people with antibiotic-resistant TB is a truly serious problem (in our country).” Currently, the Russian State medical protocol (Ministry of Health) for treating TB, requires “Regime IV” of chemotherapy. The patient is given simultaneously five medications, in the hopes that at least one of them will work. According to Ministry of Health statistics for 2011, of 16,000 patients suffering from antibiotic-resistant TB, only 37% were helped by this standard therapy. And 12% of these people died from the disease.
In 2015 Russia had 84,500 people registered with TB. [It is not stated which proportion of these have antibiotic-resistant TB.]
In the entire world, there are over 10 million people with TB. Of these, approximately 480,000 have antibiotic-resistant TB. In 2015 1.8 million people died from TB. The countries suffering the most from this disease are India, China, and Russia. For this reason, the success of the recent clinical trial should bring hope to those who are suffering, or who have a loved one suffering, from this nasty disease.