Trials to establish shorter TB treatment regimen progressing at KUHeS

Trials to establish shorter TB treatment regimen progressing at KUHeS
Trials to establish shorter TB treatment regimen progressing at KUHeS

Africa-Press – Malawi. A study which is one of the two drug trials being carried by scientists at Kamuzu University of Health Sciences (KUHeS) to establish shorter Tuberculosis (TB) treatment regimens, is progressing well.

According to Dr Hussein Twabi who is a Medical Doctor and Infectious Disease Epidemiologist and a Research Fellow at Helse-Nord Tuberculosis Initiative (HNTI), a project at KUHeS, the institution is doing the Phase II and Phase III trials which seek to shorten the six-month TB treatment.

The Phase II study will determine the effectiveness of an experimental drug on TB or condition in approximately 100 to 300 volunteers and this Phase II trial will answer the question, “Does Drug X improve TB”?

On the other hand, Phase III study will test the safety and how well a new treatment works compared with a standard treatment. For example, phase III drug trials may compare which group of patients has better survival rates or fewer side effects.

Speaking with this publication on the progress of the two drug trials, Dr Twabi said they have since commenced the Phase II trial which he said is now two-thirds on the way of recruitment, but he indicated that the Phase III trial, is due to start.

“Currently, we are maybe two-thirds of the way of recruiting on one of the trials. It’s called the phase two trial, which means it’s the first time we are trying out this intervention in people who have the disease in question. So that one is quite far ahead and we should be concluding soon. And then we have a second trial, which is due to start. We are waiting for the drugs to be shipped into the country,” said Dr Twabi.

For the Phase III trial, the Infectious Disease Epidemiologist said there is a long follow-up period because they have to observe the patients for a while to ensure that they are well and to ensure that they do not develop TB again and he added that this may take the next two years to conclude and present results.

While emphasizing on the significance of a shorter TB treatment regimens, Dr Twabi said for the current six-month TB treatment, the studies were done back in 1960s when there was no good monitoring facilities for some of the side effects. He indicated that if successful, these trials will shorten the treatment, lessen the side effects and improve efficacy.

Away from the two drug trials, the scientist added that Malawi has in 2023 done better on the fight against TB, claiming the country registered a downward trajectory than in 2022, but said a full report on the progress will be released after a TB technical working group meeting which is scheduled for this coming March.

“We can only report the numbers after the TB technical working group meeting that is scheduled for this quarter, which is somewhere in March. But for now, off the top of my head, we have definitely done better than 2022 in terms of the numbers that we actually reported of people actually having a new TB, and we hope that this trajectory will be improved by some of the interventions that we are also proposing for this year,” he added.

He then encouraged frontliners in the TB elimination agenda which include health workers, to keep on providing counselling to TB patients on how medication plays a crucial role in making sure that transmission of the disease in the country keeps on reducing.

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