Traditional medicine could hold key to fighting tuberculosis

file0002050295530New research could pit chemicals found in traditional Chinese medicine against tuberculosis.

In 2015 more than a million people died from tuberculosis – making it the leading infectious disease related cause of death.

TB can become dormant in the body, and that makes it difficult to fight and means doctors have to use more antibiotics.

Robert Abramovitch is the leading author on the study. He said as drug resistance increases more traditional medicines may be the key to stay a step ahead of disease.

“Nature is an amazing chemist and has learned how to develop all sorts of unusual structures that have different medicinal properties. I think as we develop new antibiotics to combat the evolution of drug resistance that natural products, things that might exist in traditional medicines, will play a very important role.”

Abramovitch said the chemical, artemisinin, was found by testing hundreds of thousands of chemical compounds against TB. He says it works by keeping the disease from going dormant.

It still has a long way to go before human trials but Abramovitch said the research is promising.