A study by researchers from the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine (NUS Medicine) has discovered that xanthones, a natural compound with antioxidant and antibacterial properties found in mangosteens, are very effective against common and multidrug-resistant strains of tuberculosis (TB). The study was carried out under the Singapore Programme of Research Investigating New Approaches to Treatment of Tuberculosis (SPRINT-TB), a multiparty programme based at NUS, and published in the European Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.
TB is an infectious disease affecting an estimated 8.6 million people globally and responsible for some 1.3 million deaths annually. Of the world’s TB cases, 59 per cent are from Asia, where a rapidly ageing population and the prevalence of diseases such as diabetes contribute to the high number, as compromised immune systems make the aged more susceptible to infections.
The discovery of xanthones as a potential drug candidate is significant because, aside from two new drugs approved in recent years for multidrug-resistant TB, there has been no new drug developments to treat the disease in more than 40 years. Xanthones also have a low propensity to develop drug resistance, and since it is a proven antibacterial compound, there is no need to reinvent the wheel by searching for and testing completely new compounds.
“The average TB patient currently expects to undergo six to 24 months of tedious treatment. Xanthones offer a realistic avenue towards developing new and more effective drugs for TB, with potentially shortened treatment times as well. All these factors can help in reducing the disease burden faced by Singapore’s ageing population, as well as treatment costs incurred by patients and their families,” said Principal Investigator Associate Professor Thomas Dick, Head of the Antibacterial Drug Discovery Laboratory and Director of the Biosafety-level 3 (BSL-3) Core Facility at NUS Medicine.
SPRINT-TB and BSL-3 are working to speed up the investigation into xanthones and other potential TB treatment methods.
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