An Indian-origin researcher in the U.S. says that a cure for drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) is possible with a combination of at least five drugs.
Dr. Salmaan Keshavjee of Harvard Medical School in the US carried out a trial with 600 patients in Russia, about five per cent of whom had extensively drug-resistant TB.
His team gave each patient an individually tailored treatment programme on the basis of the strain they had.
The researcher said that the aim was to provide at least five drugs to which that particular patient's strain of TB was susceptible.
He said that about half of the patients with extensively drug-resistant TB, and 67 per cent with multi-drug resistant TB had treatment cure or completion.
"Aggressive management of this infectious disease is feasible and can prevent high mortality rates and further transmission of drug-resistant strains of TB," the BBC quoted Dr. Keshavjee as saying.
Health experts in the UK hailed this research as good news, but insisted that it would require a lot of resources.
Dr John Moore-Gillon, a spokesperson for the British Lung Foundation, said: "The reason we have the problem is inadequate control of TB. This treatment is extremely labour and resource intensive and has to be done within extremely well structured TB programmes. It's a very important paper showing it's possible to deal with XDR-TB but it's very expensive."
He added that treating multi-drug resistant TB could cost tens of thousands, and the cost of treating extensively drug-resistant TB could be much more than that.
The study has been reported in the journal The Lancet.