24 July 2012 (BBC) - Hopes of a new, more effective therapy for tuberculosis have been raised following the results of early trials.
The study showed three drugs given in combination killed more than 99% of TB bacteria after two weeks of treatment.
The therapy appeared to be equally effective on the drug-resistant form of the disease in the trials of 85 patients, a team led by Stellenbosch University in South Africa reported.
Larger studies are now taking place to further test the technique.'Better, faster'
TB is one of the oldest and most deadly infectious diseases.
About 1.4m people a year die each year from it, mainly in developing countries.
Current treatments usually involve people taking drugs daily for six months.
The drug-resistant strain is much harder to treat and can involve up to two years of therapy.
Of the three drugs used in this study, published in the Lancet, one is new, while another is not yet licensed.
Andreas Diacon, lead researcher for the trial, said: "The results of this study give healthcare providers on the front-lines of the TB epidemic hope for better, faster tools needed to stop this disease."
Mario Raviglione, a TB expert at the World Health Organization, said: "The results look strongly promising from this early trial.
"We could shorten drug regimens substantially for everyone, regardless of whether the form of TB is sensitive or multi-drug resistant."