Glaucoma: Eye Medication May Help Treat Tuberculosis

First Posted: Jul 23, 2015 08:01 PM EDT

New findings published in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy reveal that a compound found in drugs used to treat glaucoma--known as ethoxzolamide--may also be helpful in turning off tuberculosis bacteria's ability to sense immune system attacks, making them shorter and more effective.

"The compound we found inhibits TB's ability to detect acidic environments, effectively blindfolding the bacterium so it can't resist the immune system's assault," said Robert Abramovitch, a Michigan State University microbiologist, in a news release.

Previous studies have shown just how TB bacteria can sense changes in acidity levels in the body, indicating that they're being attacked by immune cells. Yet ethoxzolamide blocks this ability, in turn, making the bacteria more susceptible to immune system attack, increasing the efficacy of antibiotics.

For the study, researchers screened 273,000 different compounds with the help of a synthetic biosensor to determine if one could possibly stop the disease.

Findings revealed that the discovery helped prevent antibiotics from losing some of their efficacy through helping the body's defense become more effective.

"The single biggest reason for the evolution of drug-resistant strains is the long course of treatment," Abramovitch concluded. "It's difficult for a patient to complete the entire antibiotic course required to kill all of the bacteria. Shortening the duration will help slow the development of these resistant strains."

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