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

Uganda Court Annuls Anti-Gay Law

Court says law was passed in parliament without enough members present for a full quorum More

Multimedia Thailand Makes Efforts to Improve Conditions for Migrant Laborers

In Thailand, its not uncommon for parents to bring their children to work; one company, in-collaboration with other organizations, address safety concerns More

In Indonesia, Jihad Video Raises Concern

Video calls on Indonesians to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL 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.
In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborersi
X
Steve Herman
August 01, 2014 6:22 PM
Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborers

Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video Public Raises its Voice on Power Plant Pollution

In the United States, proposed rules to cut pollution from the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants are generating a heated debate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, charged with writing and implementing the plan, has already received 300,000 written comments. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, another 1,600 people are lining up this week at EPA headquarters and at satellite offices around the country to give their testimony in person.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

The public in China is welcoming the Communist Party's decision to investigate one of the country's once most powerful politicians, former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang. Analysts say the move by President Xi Jinping is not only an effort to win more support for the party, but an essential step to furthering much needed economic reforms and removing those who would stand in the way of change. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.

AppleAndroid