Pearl of a Breakthrough

A new, 6-month treatment has cured 90% of people with stubborn drug-resistant tuberculosis—who typically face limited treatment options and poor outcomes, according to clinical trial results published today in The New England Journal of Medicine.

The new oral bedaquiline, pretomanid and linezolid combo given over 6 months to trial participants in South Africa is a marked improvement over the current treatment, which puts patients on up to 7 drugs with harsh side effects for at least a year and half, Reuters reports.

“This is extremely significant, probably one of the biggest advances in TB therapeutics since the 1970s,” said Richard Chaisson, director of the Center for Tuberculosis Research at Johns Hopkins, who was not affiliated with the study. Typically, for resistant TB, the success rate is well below 50%—and averages 14% in South Africa.

“We need to guard this regimen like a pearl of great price,” says co-author Francesca Conradie of the University of Witwatersrand.

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