MSU scientists set sights on glaucoma medication for TB treatments

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Robert Abramovitch and his team screened 273,000 different compounds in hopes of finding one that could possibly stop TB. (view larger image)

A new discovery by Michigan State University (MSU) scientists suggests that a common medication used to treat glaucoma could also be used to treat tuberculosis (TB), even the drug-resistant kind.

Robert Abramovitch, an MSU microbiologist, along with graduate student Benjamin Johnson who helped lead the study, have discovered that ethoxzolamide, a sulfa-based compound found in many prescription glaucoma drugs, actually turns off the bacterium’s ability to invade the immune system.

The research paper is in the current issue of Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.

“Basically, ethoxzolamide stops TB from deploying its weapons…shutting down its ability to grow inside certain white blood cells in the immune system,” Abramovitch, an assistant professor in the MSU Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, said. “We found the compound reduces disease symptoms in mice.”

According to Abramovitch, TB has the uncanny ability to sense certain environmental cues in the body and adapt. One of these cues includes the infection’s ability to detect pH – or acidity levels – which tells the disease it’s being attacked by a host immune cell.

“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,” Abramovitch said.

For the full story, please visit MSU Today.

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