News / Health

Inhaling Tuberculosis Drugs Could Be More Effective

Delivering medicine directly to the lungs is faster and requires lower doses

Delivering TB drugs directly to the lungs by inhaling a fine powder, can be more effective, faster and require lower doses.
Delivering TB drugs directly to the lungs by inhaling a fine powder, can be more effective, faster and require lower doses.

Multimedia

Audio
Art Chimes

A new way of taking tuberculosis drugs shows promise in laboratory tests. Instead of taking a pill or getting a shot, patients would inhale their medicine to get the drug deep into the lungs.

Tuberculosis is one of the world's most serious health challenges. The World Health Organization says one-third of the world's population is infected - that's two billion people. The vast majority of them never get sick, but last year alone more than nine million did, and an estimated 1.7 million died from TB.

Treating tuberculosis has never been easy. Drugs must be taken for months, and too often patients stop taking the pills, which opens the way for resistant forms of the disease to develop. So the search is on for better ways to treat TB.

A PhD student at the University of Colorado has been exploring using existing drugs in a new form - a very fine powder that is inhaled, instead of a pill. J'aime Manion says most tuberculosis bacteria cluster in the lungs, so delivering drugs directly to the lungs can be more effective, faster, and require lower doses.

"Over and over again we see that when you treat with inhalation, you see a faster clearance of the bacteria," she said. "And this is so important because the treatment times for tuberculosis are from three to six months, with tons of antibiotics, with terrible side effects."

Manion has been working with inhalable particles that are about three microns in diameter - three one-thousandths of a millimeter across.

Creating the inhalant from an established drug that's manufactured in pill form isn't simply a matter of grinding it up into a fine powder. Manion says she and her team found that adding an amino acid called leucine gave the powdered medicine some useful properties, such as keeping the individual particles from sticking together.

"And when they're less sticky, they're able to blow apart and disperse better. And that's a really big, important thing for inhalable antibiotics because we want them to not go in as a clump, but to go in as individual particles and to make the most of their small size, so that they get where they're going and they get to the deepest, smallest parts of the lungs," Manion explained.

By inhaling the drug, the patient gets the medicine directly into the lungs, where most of the target tuberculosis bacteria are.

"The point of the inhalable antibiotics is, we can concentrate a dose in this area, and then maybe get more effect out of a lower dose because it's concentrated into a smaller area and it's hitting the affected site," she said. "And after it hits its target, it then is absorbed by the bloodstream and does further good in the body."

Inhaled drugs are already being used to treat other diseases, including asthma and cystic fibrosis. The challenges have mainly been in manufacturing the drug in such a way that the ultra-small particles actually get into the tiny passageways deep in the lungs. But scientists are overcoming some of those challenges.

At the same joint meeting of the International Pharmaceutical Federation and the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists where J'aime Manion presented her research, others were sharing their findings on inhalable drug delivery for conditions ranging from human papillomavirus to lung cancer.

Manion's work so far has focused on developing an inhalable form of tuberculosis antibiotics. Now that she has, she hopes other researchers will be able to continue the process with tests on laboratory animals.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs