A full-house of experts in HIV and TB research united with postgraduate students in this field for a guest lecture, held at UKZN’s KwaZulu-Natal Research Institute for Tuberculosis and HIV (K-RITH), on the pharmacology of TB treatment among patients with and without HIV.
The lecture was presented by Professor Kelly Dooley, an Assistant Professor of Medicine, Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences at Johns Hopkins University, who said that researchers have a long way to go if their goal is a two-to-three month treatment for drug-sensitive TB and a six-month regimen for multi-drug-resistant TB.
The lecture portrayed how treatment options for TB and for TB and HIV co-infection rely heavily on pharmacology –the science that deals with the origin, nature, chemistry, effects, and uses of drugs.
Dooley said it was easier to establish which drugs to prescribe for HIV infected patients because researchers had a viral load to work with. On the other hand, drug development for TB was said to be more challenging, especially given the paucity of informative biomarkers of treatment response.
Dooley said understanding the relationships between biochemical and physiological effects of drugs on the body and the process by which certain drugs are absorbed, distributed, metabolized, and eliminated by the body would help dose optimization and regimen choice for TB.
She said a shortened treatment duration for drug sensitive TB, as well as safer, more effective treatment for drug resistant TB was critical in order to win the fight against the disease. She coupled this with finding regimens that can be used together with antiretroviral (ARV) drugs without compromising efficacy of either drug for co-infected persons.
One of Dooley’s suggestions was to include patients infected with HIV in TB treatment trials, ‘but potential drug interaction and overlapping toxicities must be considered first’.
The lecture was also an opportunity to discuss other studies that are being conducted on the topic internationally, and Dooley engaged attendees on various stages of drug development for HIV and TB.