LIVERPOOL, England – Nearly all patients treated with an experimental combined anti-tuberculosis regimen using one of the newest approved drugs, an investigational drug, a repurposed drug and an existing tuberculosis drug showed signs of full recovery at the end of two months of treatment, three times as quickly as participants on standard treatment regimens, researchers here said today. They called the rate at which participants had achieved the measure of treatment success in which tuberculosis no longer develops in their cultured sputum samples — culture conversion — the fastest rate ever seen.
Most significantly, patients enrolled in the study of the regimen included those with multidrug resistant disease as well as with disease responsive to first-line regimens. Researchers tested varying combinations of bedaquiline (the first new treatment in about half a century when it was approved in 2012 to treat drug-resistant disease), pretomanid — an investigational drug developed by TB Alliance, moxifloxacin — a repurposed antibacterial medicine, and pyrazinamide, a drug used in first-line tuberculosis treatment on 240 patients enrolled in the NC-005 study, across 10 sites in Uganda, South Africa and Tanzania. Patients treated with all four drugs — on the regimen researchers call BPaMZ — achieved culture conversion the fastest.
In addition to yielding promising indications for a simpler, safer, and faster treatment treatment for both drug-sensitive and drug-resistant tuberculosis, researchers say the trial has shown the possibility of simplified bedaquiline dosing.
While national tuberculosis programs struggle now with stocking 20 drugs or more for a range of tuberculosis treatment regimens, researchers say the latest findings could make a significant difference. The results of the NC-005 study, with interim results from the NIX TB study, also released here today, show the potential for effective treatment of all tuberculosis with just five drugs, in two treatment regimens, they note.