Research reveals better results from shorter treatment of latent TB

by Leo Almazora03 Aug 2018

New findings from the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC), which have been published in the New England Journal of Medicine, point to a better way to treat a particular version of TB.

“Led by Dr. Dick Menzies, the study followed 850 children and 6,800 adults with latent TB, a dormant version of the disease that does not cause symptoms but may lead to serious illness if treatment is not provided,” said a statement from McGill University. The study is one of the largest for a pediatric clinical trial connected to TB.

The researchers put latent TB patients on either the current standard of latent TB treatment, which requires a nine-month course of isoniazid (INH), or a four-month treatment with rifampin. More than 85% of children on the rifampin regimen completed it without developing active TB; only 76% of children on the isoniazid course completed it, with two developing active TB.

“Results were similar in adults,” the release said, noting better acceptance and completion of the rifampin therapy, as well as significantly fewer grave side effects such as drug-induced hepatitis. The rifampin treatment, much shorter than the typically prescribed isoniazid course, also led to slightly lower rates of development of active TB.

“This four-month therapy is a fundamental game-changer in TB prevention,” said Menzies, who is a respirologist with the MUHC and a professor of Medicine, Epidemiology and Biostatistics at McGill University. “We believe this four month rifampin treatment should replace the nine months on INH for most people who need therapy for latent TB.”

The study, supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, included patients from eight different countries: Australia, Benin, Brazil, Canada, Ghana, Guinea, Indonesia, and South Korea.


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