Anti-diabetic drug springs new hope for tuberculosis patients

December 17, 2014

A more effective treatment for tuberculosis (TB) could soon be available as scientists have discovered that Metformin (MET), a drug for treating diabetes, can also be used to boost the efficacy of TB medication without inducing drug resistance. 

The team of scientists began searching for drugs that could control Mtb replication indirectly. They screened FDA-approved drugs and identified MET, an old anti-diabetic drug that could defend Mtb invasion without targeting the bacteria directly. Instead, MET targets the host cells to trigger the production of a chemical which then damages Mtb and stops its replication. Such indirect, host-targeted approach is less likely to engender drug resistance. The team also discovered that MET improves the efficacy of conventional anti-TB drugs when used in combination with them.

  1. A. Singhal, L. Jie, P. Kumar, G. S. Hong, M. K.-S. Leow, B. Paleja, L. Tsenova, N. Kurepina, J. Chen, F. Zolezzi, B. Kreiswirth, M. Poidinger, C. Chee, G. Kaplan, Y. T. Wang, G. De Libero. Metformin as adjunct antituberculosis therapyScience Translational Medicine, 2014; 6 (263): 263ra159 DOI:10.1126/scitranslmed.3009885