A Howard Hughes Medical Institute international research scholar based at the National Institute of Immunology in New Delhi claims to have created a compound that stops tuberculosis (TB) in its tracks.
Rajesh Gokhale has revealed that, during test tube experiments in his lab, the molecule was found to hit four of the bacterium's crucial metabolic pathways at the same time, weakening and ultimately destroying the pathogen.
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Since he wants to see further developments based on his seven years of work, Gokhale has been approaching pharmaceutical companies to see whether he can get any takers to help design a less toxic version.
He believes that designing a safe and effective medicine might one day replace the costly cocktail of medications that TB patients must currently take to cure their disease.
Though it may take years before a drug based on Gokhale's ideas is tested on humans, this research offers a measure of hope that researchers may one day have more modern pharmaceutical "weapons" that can slow down the tuberculosis (TB) pathogen's relentless assault.
"Right now, tuberculosis patients take a cocktail of four drugs, and each inhibits a single enzyme," Nature Chemical Biology quoted Gokhale as saying.
"Targeting several enzymes at the same time is a much more efficient approach. Theoretically, patients wouldn't have to take several drugs, they could just take one," he added.
In their research paper, he and his colleagues point out that the multi-drug regimen requires TB patients to manage taking four drugs exactly as prescribed over six to nine months, and if the patients do not take the full course of the medicines, the bacteria may develop resistance to the drugs and become even more difficult to treat.
Gokhale said that a single drug that targets multiple pathways could save time and money by eliminating the need to take so many drugs over such a long period of time.