Every year, millions of people died from the deadly Tuberculosis, which is one of the major causes of disease-related death globally.
In the year 2017, as many as 10 million people caught the disease and around 1.6 million died from the disease.
The good thing is that the deadly disease is also curable, but that involves the right diagnosis and timely treatment with the right drugs. Taking old drugs may have side effects and that is bad for health.
Active, drug-susceptible TB is actually treated with a standard course of around 4 antimicrobial drugs over six months. But without timely assistance, the disease can turn from bad to worse and then become resistant to drugs, and can even spread to others.
This is the reason why doctors have been running medical trials in Johannesburg, trying to treat the deadliest strain of Tuberculosis, known as XDR. They only ever took in 109 patients, around 5 years ago. But since then, their treatment has shown a remarkable 90% success rate against the drug-resistant version of the disease.
That treatment has now been sanctioned by the FDA, and also WHO is likely to follow it soon.
Only a small fraction of TB patients around the world contract XDR, but it is said to have the highest kill rate.
Most of the patients pass away before they can actually even be diagnosed, according to experts and only a few of them who receive the usual treatment, the survival rate is just 34%.
Moreover, the treatment is both expensive and dangerous in other way too. Shockingly, a typical regimen is up to around 40 pills a day for two years. If there is no money for the patient to go for the newer drugs, then he would be consuming the older ones which certainly have side effects like deafness, kidney failure and psychosis.
The new drug identified as Nix-TB has certain prescriptions and it required patients to take five pills per day for six months. Nix-TB was made of three drugs, that doctors believe that one day it would be combined into a single daily pill, like HIV drugs.
Not only does that reduces the side-effects, but also minimises the chance patients will stop treatment because of how awful the drugs make them feel.
Dr. Gerald Friedland, one of the discoverers of XDR-TB, said that though Nix uses drugs that might have other risks, it’s a chance we have to take now. “If this works as well as it seems to, we need to do this now.”