A recent study presented at the Union Conference on Lung Health in Paris has revealed that a commonly used antibiotic could potentially reduce the risk of children developing multidrug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) by more than half. MDR-TB is a form of the disease that has developed resistance to two or more of the first-line drugs used against it, making treatment long and difficult for young patients.
The study conducted by researchers from the Desmond Tutu TB Centre at South Africa’s Stellenbosch University showed that a single daily dose of levofloxacin reduced the risk of MDR-TB disease in children by 56%. This breakthrough in prevention comes in the form of a child-friendly, fruit-flavored tablet, offering a feasible and easy-to-administer solution.
MDR-TB is a serious and highly contagious illness that commonly affects the lungs. If left untreated, it can progress to active TB, posing further health risks for children. An estimated two million children contract MDR-TB each year.
The findings provide high-quality evidence and propose a significant reduction in the risk of MDR-TB. It is hoped that by preventing the disease, costly and lengthy treatments can be avoided, bringing potential cost savings to national health systems.
Although the study focused on prevention, separate trials have also made progress in the treatment of MDR-TB. Innovative regimens have been tested, which have demonstrated safety and efficacy across various populations, including children, pregnant women, and individuals with other illnesses such as HIV. These new regimens could potentially shorten treatment time by up to two-thirds compared with conventional treatments, which can last up to two years.
The developments in both prevention and treatment are critical in the fight against MDR-TB, as it remains a major cause of mortality, particularly among children. The World Health Organization recently launched its Roadmap towards ending TB in children and adolescents, emphasizing the need for improved prevention, treatment, and care for childhood TB.
Overall, these advancements in tuberculosis research are providing hope for the millions of children affected by this deadly disease, offering the potential for improved outcomes and a brighter future.
What is multidrug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB)?
Multidrug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) is a form of tuberculosis that has developed resistance to two or more of the standard drugs used to treat the disease. This resistance makes treatment more difficult and lengthy, often resulting in poor outcomes.
How does the common antibiotic reduce the risk of MDR-TB in children?
A single daily dose of levofloxacin, a common antibiotic, has been found to reduce the risk of MDR-TB in children by 56%. The antibiotic is administered in the form of a child-friendly, fruit-flavored tablet.
What are the implications of preventing MDR-TB in children?
Preventing MDR-TB in children can significantly reduce the burden of the disease and avoid the need for lengthy and costly treatments. It can also improve health outcomes and potentially save lives.
Are there any other advancements in the treatment of MDR-TB?
Separate trials have shown promising results in the treatment of MDR-TB, with new regimens that can shorten treatment time by up to two-thirds compared to conventional treatments. These regimens have been found to be safe and effective across various populations, including children, pregnant women, and individuals with other illnesses such as HIV.
What is the World Health Organization doing to address childhood TB?
The World Health Organization has launched a roadmap to improve the prevention, treatment, and care of childhood tuberculosis. The roadmap aims to ensure that 90% of the estimated number of people with TB receive diagnosis and treatment services by 2027, while 90% of those at high risk of developing TB can access preventive treatment.