Aspirin may help treat drug resistant tuberculosis
Scientists at the Centenary have been working on new ways to treat tuberculosis by increasing the effectiveness of the immune system.
Tuberculosis (TB) is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide.Globally in 2016, the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimated that 4.1% of new cases and 19% of previously treated cases of TB were of MDR/RR-TB.Surprisingly there were an estimated 600,000 incident cases of MDR/RR-TB.
Using the zebrafish model of tuberculosis, the researchers used fluorescent microscopy to observe the build-up of clots and activation of platelets around sites of infection (see supporting videos https://youtu.be/a4ps1_
Following their hunch that these platelets were being tricked by the infection into getting in the way of the body's immune system, the researchers treated infections with anti-platelet drugs, including widely available aspirin, and were able to prevent hijacking and allow the body to control infection better.
Dr Elinor Hortle, lead author and Research Officer in Centenary's Immune-Vascular Interactions laboratory says "This is the first time that platelets have been found to worsen tuberculosis in an animal model. It opens up the possibility that anti-platelet drugs could be used to help the immune system fight off drug resistant TB".
There are over 1.2 million Australians living with latent tuberculosis, a non-infectious form of TB that puts them at risk of developing the active disease. "Our study provides more crucial evidence that widely available aspirin could be used to treat patients with severe tuberculosis infection and save lives," says Dr Hortle.