In the year 2015, an estimate of 10.4 million new cases of TB and 1.4 million deaths from this disease was recorded. According to a new research led by the University of Sydney, anti-bacterial compounds which are found in soil could prove to be a new treatment for tuberculosis.
Tuberculosis (TB) causes more deaths than any other infectious disease including HIV/AIDs. In 2015 there was an estimate of 10.4 million new cases of TB and 1.4 million deaths from the disease.
The bacteria which causes TB (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) has become increasingly resistant to current therapies, indicating an urgent need to develop new TB drugs. In the year 2015 an estimate of 480,000 cases were unresponsive to the two major drugs which are used to treat TB. It is estimated more than 250,000 TB deaths were due to drug-resistant infections.
An international collaboration was led by University Professors Richard Payne, from the School of Chemistry, and Warwick Britton, from the Sydney Medical School and the Centenary Institute. They discovered a new compound which could be used as a new drug for TB. Its findings were published in Nature Communications today.
They soiled bacteria compounds known to effectively prevent other bacteria growing around them. Implementing synthetic chemistry the researchers were able to recreate these compounds comprising structural variations, turning them into more potent compounds called analogues. Further when they were tested in a containment laboratory these analogues proved to be effective killers of Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
"These analogues inhibit the action of a key protein needed to build a protective cell wall around the bacterium," said Professor Payne. "Without a cell wall, the bacterium dies. This wall-building protein is not targeted by currently available drugs.
"The analogues also effectively killed TB-causing bacteria inside macrophages, the cells in which the bacteria live in human lungs." Professor Payne said the findings are the starting point for a new TB drug. Planning for further testing and safety studies is underway.
The research was conducted in collaboration with Colorado State University in the USA, Simon Fraser University in Canada, Warwick University in the UK, Monash University and the University of Queensland. It was funded by Australia's National Health and Medical Research Centre (NHMRC).
Professors Payne and Britton belonged to the University's Marie Bashir Institute for Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity. Professor Payne won the Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year at the 2016 Prime Minister's Science Prizes.