Some antacids like omeprazole, medicines used to treat heartburn could shorten tuberculosis (TB) treatment. In addition, according to a study published in “The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” (PNAS), these drugs could also reduce the chances that the bacteria that cause TB become resistant to drugs.
therapy to treat tuberculosis, a disease caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis what in 2021 affected 10.6 million people worldwide and killed 1.6 million people, requires multiple antibiotics over a period of several months. This poses logistical challenges to completing treatment for many people. Thus, there is widespread agreement that shortening TB treatment is necessary to thwart the global burden of disease.
The drugs like omeprazol, pantoprazol, lansoprazol y rabeprazol They are cheap, within the reach of the population and safe. The researchers found that these drugs prevent the bacteria that cause tuberculosis from becoming tolerant to the antibiotics used to treat the disease.
Research led by Professor Lalita Ramakrishnan, from the University of Cambridge, UK, has looked at exactly why tuberculosis treatment typically involves taking antibiotics for several months.
When we are infected, the TB bacteria enter our tissues and invade cells that are part of our immune system, called macrophages. When they get there, they activate pumps in their cell membranes that pump out the antibiotics we use against them. This makes the bacteria tolerant to antibiotics, which is why it takes so long to treat TB.
In this new study, Ramakrishnan and his colleagues decided to test whether a heart and blood pressure drug called verapamil, which blocks human cell membrane pumps, could also block the bacterial cell membrane pump.
To do this, they used an ordered approach in which they labeled an antibiotic typically used to treat tuberculosis, the rifampicin, with a fluorescent marker so they can track exactly how the bacteria process the antibiotic. This meant that they could see directly that verapamil effectively prevents bacteria from expelling rifampicin.
We Tested Antacids, And Bingo! Many of Them Worked
University of Cambridge
The researchers then wondered if other drugs, which also block pumps in the human cell membrane, might have the same effect on TB bacterial pumps as verapamil.
“We tested antacids, and bingo, many of them worked. Most surprising of all were proton pump inhibitors that are among the most widely used, over-the-counter medications for heartburn, reflux, gastritis: omeprazole, pantoprazole, lansoprazole, rabeprazole,” Ramakrishnan notes.
«They not only work, but work as well or even more potently than verapamil“, Add.
In addition, he explains that because active drug pumps are thought to allow bacteria to develop drug resistance, “there is a possibility that these drugs could simultaneously reduce the chances of drug resistance, a major problem in the treatment of tuberculosis.
So far this work has only been carried out in cells so further research will be needed before finally moving on to clinical trials to look at potential treatment regimens for drug combinations in patients.