Bone marrow stem cells could defeat drug-resistant tuberculosis

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SummarySome 450,000 people worldwide have drug-resistant tuberculosis

into large numbers in the laboratory before being re-transfused into the same patient, the researchers explained.

During six months of follow-up, the researchers found that the infusion treatment was generally safe and well tolerated, with no serious side effects recorded. The most common non-serious side effects were high cholesterol levels, nausea, low white blood cell counts and diarrhea.

Although a phase 1 trial is primarily designed only to test a treatment's safety, the scientists said further analyses of the results showed that 16 patients treated with stem cells were deemed cured at 18 months compared with only five of 30 TB patients not treated with stem cells.

Maeurer stressed that further trials with more patients and longer follow-up were needed to better establish how safe and effective the stem cell treatment was.

But if future tests were successful, he said, it could become a viable extra new treatment for patients with MDR-TB who do not respond to conventional drug treatment or those with severe lung damage.

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