Prof V Nagaraja, Department of Cell Biology and Microbiology, IISC
Multi drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) is a major public health problem that threatens progress made in TB care and control, worldwide. WHO estimates that around 0.5 mn cases of MDR-TB are reported each year, of which nearly 10 percent die every year. MDR-TB is difficult to diagnose and treat, leading to increased transmission and mortality.
By 2015, it is estimated that $2 billion will be needed for the diagnosis and treatment of MDR-TB. Many cases of resistant tuberculosis go undiagnosed, this increases the threat of large scale dissemination of the bacteria in the population.
Many research experts across the globe have begun their hunt for newer drugs with the bacteria exhibiting increased resistance to existing antibiotics. Indian Institute of Science's (IISC) latest discovery could break new grounds in the treatment of the disease and provide relief to numerous patients worldwide. The nine-membered research team comprised of PhD students and professors, was led by Prof. V Nagaraja of the Department of Cell Biology and Microbiology.
Speaking exclusively to Bio spectrum, he explains the novel cure in sight for TB and how MDR-TB has gripped the world with fear.
1. In your opinion, how did the multi drug resistant strain of TB evolve and spread in the population?
Tuberculosis affects nearly one third of the world's population and is the number one killer disease in the world. Currently, the treatment for TB involves a combination therapy where patients are treated with four front line drugs. However, many patients do not complete their drug regime. This results in the remaining population of the bacteria developing drug resistance, which then spreads in the population making it tough to eradicate the disease. MDR-Tb is difficult to diagnose and many cases go undetected. Close contact with such patients also spreads the bacteria. Poor patient management by healthcare practitioners is also responsible for increasing numbers of these bugs in the population.