Ancient Chinese malaria remedy fights TB

A centuries-old herbal medicine, discovered by Chinese scientists and used to effectively treat malaria, has been found to potentially aid in the treatment of tuberculosis and may slow the evolution of drug resistance.

December 20, 2016 - Author: Sarina Gleason

Robert Abramovitch

A centuries-old herbal medicine, discovered by Chinese scientists and used to effectively treat malaria, has been found to potentially aid in the treatment of tuberculosis and may slow the evolution of drug resistance.

In a promising study led by Robert Abramovitch, a Michigan State University AgBioResearch microbiologist and TB expert, the ancient remedy artemisinin stopped the ability of TB-causing bacteria, known as Mycobacterium tuberculosis, to become dormant. This stage of the disease often makes the use of antibiotics ineffective.

The study is published in the journal Nature Chemical Biology.

“When TB bacteria are dormant, they become highly tolerant to antibiotics,” Abramovitch said, an assistant professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine. “Blocking dormancy makes the TB bacteria more sensitive to these drugs and could shorten treatment times.”

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