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.


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

Multimedia Brussels Schools, Metro Reopen Under Heavy Guard

City remains under the highest threat alert level due to what authorities have described as a 'serious and imminent' threat of attack

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

UN Warns Air Pollution in Asia Pacific Has Rising Cost

Globally some seven million people a year die prematurely due to indoor and outdoor pollution with about 70 per cent of those deaths in region

This forum has been closed.
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.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs