In an “unexpected” discovery,vitamin C has been found to kill drug-resistant forms of tuberculosis, which could mean existing drugs can be redesigned to combat the disease.
Researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, New York, have determined vitamin C kills drug-resistant TB bacteria in lab culture.
The finding suggests vitamin C added to existing TB drugs could shorten TB therapy, and it highlights a new area for drug design.
TB is caused by infection with the bacterium M tuberculosis. According to the WHO, TB sickened 8.7 million people and took 1.4 million lives in 2011, Infections that fail to respond to TB drugs are a growing problem: About 650,000 people worldwide now have multi-drug-resistant TB (MDR-TB), 9% of whom have extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB).
The discovery arose during research into how TB bacteria become resistant to isoniazid, a potent first-line TB drug. William Jacobs, lead investigator and senior author of the study and his colleagues observed that soniazid-resistant TB bacteria were deficient in a molecule called mycothiol.