Researchers at San Antonio's Texas Biomed are reporting progress in repurposing drugs used in chemotherapy to fight cancer into treatments for tuberculosis, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
Texas Biomed President Dr. Larry Schlesinger, who is also a world class TB researcher, says they have found an effect in the chemo drugs that helps fight the cell death with is part of cancer.
"In cancer and in infectious diseases, the common point here is we are trying to bolster the immune system to fight infection, or to fight cancer," he said.
In cooperation with his colleague, Texas Biomed staff scientist Dr. Eusondia Arnett, Dr. Schlesinger's research has been published in peer reviewed journals, and he said the next step will be take it to clinical testing in animals and later in humans.
It is estimated that tuberculosis has killed more humans than any other cause dating back to the beginning of the human race. Dr. Schlesinger says TB still kills four people every minute, and he says this is not a uniquely 'Third World' disease.
"We also see outbreaks on an annual basis in the United States, and Texas is very high on that list of outbreaks, not only in adults, but also in children."
Dr. Schlesinger says the fact that the chemo drugs are already in clinical trials for cancer means it will streamline the effort to get these drugs to TB patients who need them.
Cancer drugs similar to those used in the study are already in Phase II of Food and Drug Administration clinical trials. The next step for testing on the TB front will be to find out the effectiveness of this therapy in a mouse model, and then finally, in a nonhuman primate before moving on to human trials.
In addition to the continuing need to treat ongoing cases of TB, Dr. Schlesinger, says, like many treatments, current drugs used to fight tuberculosis are becoming immune to traditional antibiotics.
"Like other microbes, tuberculosis is also becoming resistant to our current therapies," he said. "We need new therapies to fight this infection."
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