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Online ISSN: 1860-7187
March 27, 2012
Repurposing existing drugs: new hope against TB
Tuberculosis (TB) is a global health concern, with approximately one third of the world's population infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), the bacterium that causes TB. Drug resistance is an increasing problem, with emergent Mtb strains (XDR-TB) that are extremely resistant to currently available antibiotics. However, Professor John Blanchard and researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine have found new hope for the fight against TB in the form of two existing drugs already approved for clinical use: clavulanate and meropenem. When administered together, these could offer a cure for even XDR-TB. Clavulanate, a β-lactamase inhibitor, works in conjunction with the ultra-broad-spectrum injectable β-lactam antibiotic, meropenem, to prevent Mtb's ability to break down the antibiotic, thus allowing the drug time to act. Although the evidence is currently anecdotal, with just one case reported by a doctor in Belgium, Blanchard believes that clinical evaluation of the combined off-label use of clavulanate and meropenem will reveal the combination to be a new weapon in the fight against TB. Prof. Blanchard reported his findings at the 243rd American Chemical Society National Meeting and Exposition (San Diego, CA, USA; March 25–29). The full webcast can be viewed here.
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