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
TEXT SIZE - +
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 Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

36 people are confirmed dead, but some 270 remain trapped on board More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends 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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid