Scientists find breakthrough treating highly resistant TB

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Tuberculosis
Tuberculosis
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  • A new trial has found a breakthrough combination to tackle TB drug resistance.
  • The trial results were presented at the International AIDS Society conference.
  • The new combination results in fewer side effects and a shorter treatment period.


Tuberculosis (TB) experts found a high relapse-free cure rate for highly resistant TB that takes 12 months less to treat than the usual medication.

The ZeNix trial tested the BPaL regimen, which consists of pretomanid, bedaquiline, and linezolid. It assessed the efficacy of the BPaL drug combination while reducing toxicity through a lower dose and shorter duration of linezolid.

The phase three trial results were presented at the 2021 International AIDS Conference press conference on Thursday.

The trial 

The trial enrolled 181 people with highly resistant TB in South Africa, Russia, Georgia and Moldova and treated them for six months with bedaquiline, pretomanid and varying doses and durations of linezolid. 

The researchers collected mucus from the patients at regular intervals during the course of the treatment.

The findings 

The study findings show that the new combination results in an 89% cure for highly resistant TB. 

The results indicate that reduced doses and shorter durations of linezolid treatment for a period of six months have remarkable efficacy and safety. The combination was also found to have fewer side effects than other TB medications.

Previously, TB resistant patients had to take a combination of as many as eight antibiotics, some involving daily injections, for 18 months or longer.

“The results of this study are very reassuring. With a reduction in the dose and duration of linezolid, we can still offer patients a high chance of cure in only six months,” said Dr Francesca Conradie, the principal investigator of the clinical trial in a press statement.

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