- Narendra Modi eyes first labour overhaul in decades to create jobsISRO's PSLV C23 carrying 5 satellites lifts off successfully from SriharikotaTo slash trade deficit, key pact signed to bring Chinese industrial parks to IndiaAir India keeps 3 planes ready for evacuation of Indians from Iraq
Given that India has the highest burden for tuberculosis (TB) in the world—a total of 2.8 million cases and 63,000 cases of multi-drug resistant (MDR) TB in 2012, also the highest such burden, as per WHO data—it is welcome news that scientists in India and US have managed to modify a precursor to an existing anti-TB drug. This will now aid the development of new antibiotics that can be used against MDR and XDR (extensively drug-resistant) TB. In lab trials on MDR TB strains, the new compound, 24-desmethylrifampicin, showed far more potent anti-bacterial activity than rifampicin, a drug which is part of the cocktail that takes over six months to cure the disease. Rifampicin, by itself, has become ineffective against XDR and MDR strains though it remains an important part of the drug cocktail used against both. Thus, the new analogue of this drug is a significant breakthrough in the treatment of the virulent forms of TB.
India's success with TB control, despite $182 million being pumped into the National TB control Programme in 2013 alone, has been marginal because of the lapses in treatment, especially with patients failing to follow through with the due course of medication. Given how the course of treatment is long, a bulk of the patients, usually from the lower economic sections, often stop medication at the first sign of recovery. So, given that the drugs developed from the new compound could bring down the course of treatment, more number of patients are likely to complete the course, thereby checking the spread of MDR and XDR TB.