Bringing science and development together through news and analysis

  • Drug-resistant TB needs massive research increase


Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) programmes can be successful, but only with a massive increase in research to equip healthcare workers with the appropriate tools, write Frank G. J. Cobelens and colleagues in PLoS Medicine.

Drug-resistant TB is a man-made problem, resulting from weak TB control measures such as using inadequate drugs and regimens, poor case management and allowing preventable transmission.

Pilot MDR-TB programmes in five poor countries have yielded treatment success rates of 59–83 per cent, showing that such programmes are feasible, say the authors.

But there are many challenges in scaling up from pilot projects to TB control programmes. Both biological and clinical issues need to be addressed first.

Drug susceptibility testing, alongside the development of laboratory support, needs to be improved to give patients the correct drugs. Better second-line drugs — some are already in the pipeline — are needed, and treatment strategies should be tested and standardised in large clinical trials. Epidemiological studies are also required to identify areas of high risk.

"Strategies therefore need to be developed that maximise treatment adherence in a sustainable way, and factors that affect adherence need to be studied, including the role of adverse events and levels of patient support," the authors say.

Link to full article in PLoS Medicine

We encourage you to republish this article online and in print, it’s free under our creative commons attribution license, but please follow some simple guidelines:
  1. You have to credit our authors.
  2. You have to credit SciDev.Net — where possible include our logo with a link back to the original article.
  3. You can simply run the first few lines of the article and then add: “Read the full article on SciDev.Net” containing a link back to the original article.
  4. If you want to also take images published in this story you will need to confirm with the original source if you're licensed to use them.
  5. The easiest way to get the article on your site is to embed the code below.
For more information view our media page and republishing guidelines.