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Tuberculosis: Cocktail of medications might mean breakthrough in treatment

Researchers at Stellenbosch University in South Africa found that a three-drug combination called PaMZ was the most effective way of eliminating both normal and drug resistant tuberculosis.

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A new study shows promise of drug cocktail in fighting TB. (AFP/AFP/Getty Images)

Tuberculosis research made a breakthrough today with a successful drug trial.

Researchers at Stellenbosch University in South Africa found that a three-drug combination called PaMZ was the most effective way of eliminating both normal and drug resistant tuberculosis.

According to Reuters, the drug cocktail killed more than 99 percent of the bacteria within two weeks.

The numbers are based on a small study of 85 people that compared five treatment regimens, with the drug cocktail coming out on top.

“We may have a major solution here for drug-sensitive TB and drug-resistant TB,” said Mario Raviglione, director of the World Health Organization’s Stop TB Partnership, according to Businessweek.

“This will change policies worldwide.”

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A follow-up study will be conducted in South Africa, Tanzania and Brazil.

TB is an often fatal lung disease that spreads through coughing.

Tuberculosis is a major killer in the developing world.

It kills just under 1.5 million people per year, mostly in poor countries in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.

There are about nine million new contractions of the disease each year.

"TB is the largest killer of AIDS patients, and so in order to contain the AIDS epidemic, we have to contain TB to a much greater extent," said Mel Spiegelman, CEO of the TB Alliance, a non-profit research group that conducted the study, reported Reuters.

The research was funded by the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development, a non-profit, itself supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said AFP.

The study was published in the Lancet medical journal.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/health/120723/cocktail-medications-helps-kill-tuberculosis