November Newsletter



NEW: Simple KNCV stool test breakthrough for Childhood TB

A simple stool-based diagnosis that was developed by KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation could be a global lifesaver by enabling millions more children at risk from TB and MDR-TB to be tested. This breakthrough was announced during the Union World Conference and could drastically reduce the numbers of children under five dying from TB. Currently, an estimated 239,000 children die every year from TB. Children with TB rarely die when they receive standard treatment for the disease, but 90 percent of children who die from TB worldwide went untreated. Read more here.

NEW: Tuberculosis Research Funding Trends 2005-2017

In this report, Treatment Action Group (TAG) presents their data on TB research funding trends for the 13 years from 2005 to 2017. Although there have been spurts of notable growth, particularly in 2009 and again in 2016 and 2017, funding for TB research has lagged far behind internationally agreed-upon targets and has remained dependent on a few large funders. This extreme reliance on a handful of major funders makes the progress we have seen over the last decade precarious. In addition, when adjusted for inflation, funding for TB research has not increased from where it was a decade ago. This report, in full, can be found here.


On December 6, 2018, at 7AM EST, TREAT TB will host a capacity building webinar on community engagement in MDR-TB clinical trials.

It will feature a presentation from Ezio Tavora dos Santos Filho, STREAM Community Engagement Coordinator from REDE-TB, followed by a question and answer session.

The presentation will highlight the importance and objectives of community engagement in clinical research, how to implement community engagement before a trial begins, as well as how to bring community engagement into an existing trial. To join the webinar, click here. To join by phone, please dial +1 855 880 1246 US Toll-free or +1 877 853 5257 US Toll-free. For international numbers, click here. Meeting ID: 912 316 884

A recording of the webinar and slides will be available on the TREAT TB website approximately one week after the webinar.

TREAT TB’s MDR-TB clinical trial capacity building webinar series will continue over the coming months, with webinars scheduled for January, March, and May 2019. Future topics to be addressed include regulatory requirements, institutional review boards and ethics approval, as well as laboratory strengthening.




1. Evaluation of carbapenems for multi/extensive-drug resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis treatment.

Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2018 Nov 19. pii: AAC.01489-18. doi: 10.1128/AAC.01489-18. [Epub ahead of print]
van Rijn SP(1), Zuur MA(1), Anthony R(2), Wilffert B(1)(3), van Altena R(4)(5), Akkerman OW(4)(5), de Lange WCM(4)(5), van der Werf TS(5)(6), Kosterink, JGW(1)(3), Alffenaar JC(7).

M/XDR-TB has become an increasing threat in high burden countries but also in affluent regions due to increased international travel and globalization. Carbapenems are earmarked as potentially active drugs for the treatment of M.tuberculosis To better understand the potential of carbapenems for the treatment of M/XDR-TB, the aim of this review was to evaluate the literature on currently available in vitro, in vivo and clinical data on carbapenems in the treatment of M. tuberculosis and detection of knowledge gaps, in order to target future research. In February 2018, a systematic literature search of PubMed and Web of Science was performed. Overall the results of the studies identified in this review, which used a variety of carbapenem susceptibility tests on clinical and lab strains of M. tuberculosis, are consistent. In vitro the activity of carbapenems against M. tuberculosis is increased when used in combination with clavulanate, a BLaC inhibitor. However, clavulanate is not commercially available alone, and therefore is it practically impossible to prescribe carbapenems in combination with clavulanate at this time. Few in vivo studies have been performed, one prospective, two observational and seven retrospective clinical studies to assess effectiveness, safety and tolerability of three different carbapenems (imipenem, meropenem and ertapenem). Presently we found no clear evidence to select one particular carbapenem among the different candidate compounds, to design an effective M/XDR-TB regimen. Therefore more clinical evidence and dose optimization substantiated by hollow fiber infection studies are needed to support repurposing carbapenems for the treatment of M/XDR-TB.
This article does not have open access.


2. Relationship between chest radiographic characteristics, sputum bacterial load, and treatment outcomes in patients with extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis.

Int J Infect Dis. 2018 Nov 2. pii: S1201-9712(18)34574-0. doi: 10.1016/j.ijid.2018.10.026. [Epub ahead of print]
Te Riele JB(1), Buser V(2), Calligaro G(3), Esmail A(4), Theron G(5), Lesosky M(6), Dheda K(7).

BACKGROUND: Data about the relationship between chest radiographs and sputum bacillary load, with treatment outcomes, in patients with extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB) from HIV/TB endemic settings are limited.
METHODS: Available chest radiographs from 97 South African XDR-TB patients, at the time of diagnosis, were evaluated by two independent readers using a validated scoring system. Chest radiograph findings were correlated with baseline sputum bacillary load (smear-grade and culture time-to-positive in MGIT), and prospectively ascertained clinical outcomes (culture conversion and all-cause mortality).
RESULTS: Radiographic bilateral lung disease was present in 75/97 (77%). In the multivariate analysis only a higher total radiographic score (95% CI) was associated with higher likelihood of death [1.16 (1.05-1.28) p=0.003], and failure to culture convert [0.85 (0.74-0.97) p=0.02]. However, when restricting analyses to HIV-infected patients, disease extent, cavitation, and total radiographic scores were not associated with mortality or culture-conversion. Finally, cavitary, disease extent, and total radiographic scores all positively correlated with bacterial load (culture time-to-positive).
CONCLUSIONS: In endemic settings, XDR-TB radiological disease extent scores are associated with adverse clinical outcomes, including mortality, in HIV uninfected persons. These data may have implications for clinical and programmatic decision-making and for evaluation of new regimens in clinical trials.

This article can be found here.


3. Compassionate Use of Delamanid in Combination with Bedaquiline for the Treatment of MDR-TB.

Eur Respir J. 2018 Oct 25. pii: 1801154. doi: 10.1183/13993003.01154-2018. [Epub ahead of print]
Hafkin J(1), Hittel N(2), Martin A(2), Gupta R(1).

Patients with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB), in particular those with pre-extensively drug resistant (Pre-XDR) and extensively drug-resistant (XDR)-TB, and those that fail standard second-line therapy, are difficult to treat and have poor long-term outcomes [1].  To address this unmet medical need, there is strong interest in exploring the combined use of delamanid and bedaquiline, the only two anti-TB drugs approved for the treatment of pulmonary MDR-TB in the last 40 years, as their novel mechanisms of action may offer treatment alternatives for patients who have developed resistance or non-tolerability to existing anti-TB drugs [2, 3]. Despite the initial regulatory approvals of bedaquiline and delamanid in 2012 and 2014, respectively, global usage of both drugs in combination with one another remains limited in part due to the uncertainty around the safety and efficacy of such a combination regimen. Hence, there is an urgent need for programmatic data to better understand the “real-world” use of these two medicines used together in MDR-TB patients.

As part of a global access initiative, Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. in coordination with the European Respiratory Society (ERS) / WHO TB Consilium, and Médecins Sans Frontières / Partners in Health (MSF PIH) established its first Compassionate Use (CU) program in 2014 to provide access to delamanid, at no cost, for patients with limited treatment options [4]. In 2016, the program was modified to allow for the combined use of delamanid plus bedaquiline under specific conditions. We present here the early safety and efficacy outcomes of patients enrolled in this program receiving delamanid and bedaquiline concomitantly along with other anti-TB drugs for the treatment of MDR-TB.

This article does not have open access.


4. Bedaquiline and Repurposed Drugs for Fluoroquinolone-Resistant Multidrug-Resistant Tuberculosis: How Much Better Are They?

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2018 Nov 1;198(9):1228-1231. doi: 10.1164/rccm.201801-0019LE.
Bastard M(1), Guglielmetti L(2)(3)(4), Huerga H(1), Hayrapetyan A(5), Khachatryan N(6), Yegiazaryan L(5), Faqirzai J(6), Hovhannisyan L(6), Varaine F(2), Hewison C(2).

Treatment outcomes of conventional multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) treatments are overall unsatisfactory, particularly for fluoroquinolone-resistant MDR-TB (1). In addition, long-term follow-up studies have shown that patients who have experienced previous treatment failure contribute importantly to ongoing transmission in the community (2). The introduction of two new drugs, bedaquiline and delamanid, has been reported to improve treatment outcomes for MDR/extensively drug-resistant (XDR)-TB (3, 4). In addition, there is growing evidence that repurposed drugs such as linezolid, clofazimine, and carbapenems with amoxicillin/clavulanate also have a role to play in MDR/XDR-TB treatment (5, 6). However, few reports have assessed new regimens rather than the addition of a single new or repurposed drug to a regimen (3, 4, 6).

In Armenia, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has supported the National Tuberculosis Program for the treatment of MDR-TB patients since 2005. In 2013, bedaquiline was introduced into clinical practice through a compassionate use (CU) mechanism. At the same time, the repurposed drugs linezolid and imipenem/cilastatin became available for the first time. Clofazimine was already available. The objective of this study was to assess the clinical impact of regimens containing bedaquiline, linezolid, and/or imipenem/cilastatin.

This article does not have open access.


Activists from around the world called on National TB Programs to discontinue routine use of harmful injectable agents in treatment regimens for drug-resistant tuberculosis, in favor of newer, safer World Health Organization (WHO)-recommended treatments. Second-line injectable agents (kanamycin, capreomycin, and amikacin)—previously considered essential medicines for the treatment of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB)—have poor efficacy against TB and high toxicity, including irreversible hearing loss. Giving these medicines to people with MDR-TB exposes them to unnecessary pain and risk of disability—in the case of kanamycin and capreomycin, without any benefit.

The full article can be accessed and read here.

Has compassionate use ever sunk a drug?

Click here to read a recent International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease Editorial by RESIST-TB members, Sarah McAnaw, Carole Mitnick, and Bob Horsburgh.

“New treatments for a serious disease generate understandable excitement among patients with life-threatening conditions. As pharmaceutical companies consider compassionate use of experimental drugs, one factor is commonly cited as a barrier to such use: fear that adverse events incurred by patients during Compassionate Use/Expanded Access (CU/EA) will impede regulatory approval of the drug. Such concerns stem from the obligation to report adverse events—that are serious, unexpected, and suspected to be related to the investigational drug— experienced by patients during treatment under CU/ EA programs.1 Such reports, it is feared, will damage the future of the drug, particularly since adverse events may not be related to the experimental drug and patients taking such drugs are typically sicker than the average patient.2 Existing evidence, however, does not support the notion that such events jeopardize regulatory approval.” Click here to read the article in full. 

Unitaid extends key research grant as part of a strong counterattack on tuberculosis

Unitaid is intensifying its commitment to fighting tuberculosis with a US$ 21 million investment in extending endTB, a global research project that is improving treatment regimens for patients with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB). This project has been piloting bedaquiline and delamanid in 17 countries with the goal of providing countries and funding agencies with effective drugs to tackle MDR-TB on a large scale. 

Long-used treatments for MDR-TB can take up to two years, succeed in only about half the cases, and can cause major side effects. With endTB’s extension, a new clinical trial will be added to develop a treatment regimen for patients with fluoroquinolone-resistant MDR-TB. These regimens have the potential to cure 119,000 more patients, save 56,000 more lives and avert 239,000 drug-resistant infections from 2019 to 2027.

The endTB project’s original term was 2015-2019 and its budget US$ 60 million, but with the extension it will run through the end of 2022, with Unitaid support of up to US$ 81 million. 

To read the full article, click here.

TREAT TB Clinical Trial Capacity Building Webinar Series

RESIST-TB invites you to join TREAT TB for the second webinar in its series to promote capacity building for high quality clinical trials for MDR-TB.

On September 28th at 8 AM EST, Dr. Jan Komrska, senior pharmacist at Vital Strategies, will present a webinar on supply chain management for MDR-TB trials.

Connection details below.


For more information about connection details and future webinars, click here.

To join the webinar from a PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android, click here.

To join by phone, please dial: US (toll free):  +1 855 880 1246 (Toll Free) or +1 877 853 5257 (Toll Free).

For international numbers, click here.

Meeting ID: 912 316 884

Complete makeover in fight of MDR-TB

An international collaborative study led by Dr. Dick Menzies at McGill University has shown that several new medicines, including bedaquiline, linezolid, and the later generation fluoroquinolones, have produced consistently better cure rates for MDR-TB patients and have been proven to be more effective at treating XDR-TB than currently used treatments. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) has already responded to this study’s findings by announcing landmark changes in line with this MDR-TB regimen and, also, positioning fully oral regimens over injectable agents. “The guidelines committee simply erased the old treatment recommendations and started over. They gave the treatment guidelines a complete make-over,” says Dr. Menzies.

To read the full article, click here.

SimpliciTB clinical trial launched with first patients in Tbilisi, Georgia

TB Alliance has started a new, four month clinical trial, SimpliciTB, to test the efficacy of the BPaMZ treatment regimen consisting of bedaquiline, pretomanid, moxifloxacin, and pyrazinamide in people with drug-sensitive TB against the standard six-month treatment regimen. SimpliciTB is looking to see if this regimen can shorten the duration of treatment by one third. BPaMZ was previously studied in a Phase 2b study, NC-005, in which MDR-TB patients saw improvement three times faster than those enrolled on the standard treatment. SimpliciTB is currently enrolling patients in Tbilisi, Georgia at the at the National Center for Tuberculosis and Lung Disease. 150 of the total 450 patients that will be enrolled are expected to have MDR-TB across 26 centers in 10 countries. 

To read the full article, click here.


Please join RESIST-TB on September 6, 2018 from 8:30 – 9:30am EST for a special webinar on Adequate and Well – Controlled Studies in the TB Regimen Development: An FDA Perspective. Hosted by Dr. Carole Mitnick, this webinar will feature the expertise of FDA mathematical statistician, Karen Higgins.

Connection details below. 

To join the webinar, please use the following link:


WHO Rapid Communication: Key Changes to Treatment of MDR/RR-TB

The World Health Organization (WHO) released a rapid communication ahead of updated, more detailed guidelines on treatment of multidrug- and rifampicin-resistant tuberculosis (MDR/RR-TB) later in 2018. These improved guidelines are expected to lead to major improvements in treatment and quality of life of MDR-TB patients. The rapid communication announces a priority ranking for medicines available for treatment. This aims to improve access to more effective drugs in countries that currently have low treatment success rates. WHO also announced the forthcoming establishment of a multi-stakeholder Task Force to support national TB programs through the transition of the improved 2018 guidelines. 

Click here to read the full communication.


Each year, there are about 600,000 new cases of RR- or MDR- TB and the global cure rate for MDR-TB is just 54%. Two new drugs were introduced, bedaquiline an delamanid, but the uptake of these treatments has been surprisingly slow despite the dire need for treatment. endTB was established to address barriers to access of these two drugs, and in this interim report presents three analyses as a part of the largest cohort study of patients receiving these treatments in the world.

The Safety Analysis focuses on adverse events patients on multidrug regimens like bedaquiline and delamanid may experience, with an emphasis on QT prolongation. The Delamanid Analysis focuses on patients receiving this treatment, many of whom have comorbidities such as HIV, diabetes, and Hepatitis C. Injectible Analysis examined patients who were susceptible to injection and those who were infected with injectable-resistant strains.

The interim analysis concluded that, similar to previous studies, delamanid is an effective drug to treat MDR-TB. Neither it nor bedaquiline poses major safety issues, but it is important for patients and clinicians to weigh the benefits and risks of replacing injectable treatments with these drugs before doing so. The data in the endTB study supports elevating bedaquiline and delamanid to the top of the MDR-TB drug hierarchy. 

Read full analysis here.