New Treatment Can Cure Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis

Nine out of 10 patients were cured.

A new drug treatment tested in South Africa had a 90 percent success rate killing a deadly version of drug-resistant tuberculosis.

109 patients enrolled in the program, which sought to address what is now the world's leading infectious cause of death. What's known was the XDR strain was lethal and not treatable — until now.

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"If this works as well as it seems to, we need to do this now," Dr. Gerald Friedland, an emeritus professor at Yale's medical school, told The New York Times.

Shutterstock / Kateryna Kon

Right now, about 10 million people are diagnosed with tuberculosis each year. Of those 10 million, approximately 30,000 cases are the XDR type that is so deadly. About three-quarters of those 30,000 people die, according to The New York Times. This new treatment would reduce that number to 10 percent if the trials held up in a larger pool of patients and the infected people could be treated.

The treatment contains three drugs: pretomanid, bedaquiline and linezolid, distributed through five pills a day taken for six months. That may sound like a lot, but current treatments require as many as 40 bills a day taken for two years or, in some cases, daily injections that have side effects like kidney failure and deafness.

"Until very recently, people infected with highly drug-resistant TB had poor treatment options and a poor prognosis," Dr. Francesca Conradie, principal investigator of the trial, told CNN. "This new regimen provides hope with nine out of 10 patients achieving culture negative status at six months post-treatment with this short, all-oral regimen."

Shutterstock / Kateryna Kon

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