Current tuberculosis (TB) treatment is based on a combination of drugs that were developed mostly in the central decades of the last century. Cure rates are high for drug sensitive strains of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M. tb) when the recommended complex and lengthy treatment protocols are adhered to. However the difficulty in correctly prescribing and adhering to these protocols, the emergence of M. tb strains resistant to multiple drugs, and drug-drug interactions that interfere with optimal treatment of HIV and TB coinfected patients have generated a pressing need for improved TB therapies. Together with the ominous global burden of TB, these shortcomings of current treatment have contributed to a renewed interest in the development of improved drugs and protocols for the treatment of tuberculosis. This article highlights hurdles related to the optimized use of existing drugs and challenges related to the development of novel, improved products, focusing in particular on aspects inherent in TB drug clinical development. Concluding comments propose processes for more efficient development of new TB therapies.
Keywords: Tuberculosis (TB) drug development, pipeline, fluoroquinolones, nitroimidazoles, rifamycins, clinical trials
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