The Global Alliance for Tuberculosis Drug Development (TB Alliance) has announced that it has developed two drugs in clinical trials which could reduce the treatment time for TB.
This is a historic milestone in the accelerated drive to develop new TB drugs to fight the disease in different, faster and better ways and therefore save millions of lives across the globe, South African news agency BuaNews said.
During her address at the 38th world conference on tuberculosis and lung health, TB Alliance Chief Executive Officer Maria C. Freire said: "Two new promising drugs in our portfolio are moving forward in clinical trials offering patients worldwide the hope of and better TB treatment.
One person dies of TB every 20 seconds, the World Health Organisation has reported. In South Africa, documented figures of those infected with the disease are said to be "the tip of the iceberg".
TB Alliance is a non-profit, product development partnership aimed at accelerating the discovery and development of new drugs to fight TB.
The benefits of a shorter TB treatment regimen include improved patient compliance with regards to completing treatment.
The current TB drug regimen works for active, drug susceptible TB, but only as long as patients complete the six- to nine-month treatment. However, many patients do not complete their treatment for various reasons.
A shorter TB regimen would also help to limit the emergence of new drug resistant strains of the bacteria.
A large scale Phase III clinical trial in TB patients is beginning with the antibiotic moxifloxacin, already approved for other respiratory indications.
The study, being launched initially at six clinical trial sites in Africa, is designed to test whether a four-drug combination regimen including moxifloxacin can reduce treatment time for TB.
The treatment period for drug-susceptible TB is at present about six months, however, earlier studies suggest that combination therapy including moxifloxacin has the potential to shorten this time to four months or less.
"The development of faster, simpler drug regimens is essential in eliminating the needlessly high burden of TB in Africa and around the world," said Anthony Mbewu, president of the South Africa Medical Research Council and a member of the TB Alliance Board of Directors.