NOTORIOUSLY, tuberculosis (TB) is a leading cause of death worldwide. As a single infectious agent, it has been and remains a serious public health threat due to the associated pulmonary damage and numerous sequelae brought about by infection. Recent investigation has highlighted an exciting alternative to the current therapies in place, using a common antibiotic.
Characteristic to a mycobacterium, tuberculosis infections are cavities of high bacterial load, poorly penetrated by TB drugs, meaning after treatment is complete tissue damage often remains in the lungs, causing respiratory dysfunction further down the line. Hopeful researchers have discovered use of the common antibiotic doxycycline, in combination with TB drug treatment, effective in reducing these lung cavities and accelerating markers of lung recovery.
The current study was a Phase II double-blind trial conducted at the National University of Singapore (NUS) upon 30 patients with pulmonary tuberculosis and has revealed a safe and promising alternative treatment. Successes were summarised by Catherine Ong, the principal investigator of the study: “Pulmonary TB patients tend to suffer from lung damage after TB, which is associated with mortality, and poorer quality of life. Doxycycline is a cheap and widely available antibiotic that can decrease lung damage, and potentially improve quality of life for these patients.”
The study’s strengths lie with a targeted provision of care to combat lung damage as a result of TB infection, but these are only proven upon a small cross-sectional population. Naturally, wider study with a long-term follow-up will offer greater insight into the usefulness of doxycycline medication using this design. The research team is seeking funding and plans to verify their findings in a Phase III trial.