Totally Drug Resistant Tuberculosis (TB)

Tuberculosis BacteriumTotally Drug Resistant Tuberculosis was first encountered in two cases in Italy in 2003. Fifteen cases were observed in 2009 in Iran. Twelve cases have been discovered in India in 2011.

Totally Drug Resistant, known as TDR, is when a disease is resistant to all prescribed medications. In this case it, TDR-TB, is resistant to all three front line medications and all nine second line drugs.

Drug resistant disease is not a new phenomenon and was first indicated in the Luria–Delbrück experiment of 1943. Drug resistance has been building since drugs have been used to treat disease.

In recent years we have seen MRSA, Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, has emerged. Methicillin was the last hope of “conventional” western pharmacology.

Some of the foremost medications for Tuberculosis include:

  • Isoniazid – this is the current first line drug of choice for controlling tuberculosis. It is used on its own for the control of latent tuberculosis and in combination with other drugs for active TB.
  • Rifampicin – is a much more complicated molecule, used in conjunction with isoniazid for active TB.
  • Pyrazinamide – is also used for the control of active TB.
  • Ethambutol – specifically inhibits the synthesis of arabinan in cell walls.
  • Streptomycin – was the first antibiotic remedy for tuberculosis, but is not used for that purpose nowadays.

Diseases such as TB, bird flu, swine flu and Staph Aureus have been with us for a very long time with very long times between mutations that inhibit our ability to deal with them. It seems however, with the advent of the new “Patent” medicines the mutations seem to be coming much faster.

The TB bacteria, it has been learned, can communicate drug resistance to other TB bacteria without waiting to multiply know as horizontal gene transfer.

The authorities do not feel this is a problem. I see it as one. For thousands of years we had more or less been able to deal with disease with what we had available from nature. Sometimes there would a very virulent mutation that we were not prepared for and cause massive death an epidemic or a pandemic.

This kind of discovery, TDR-TB, confirms what I have believed for a long time – Nature loves and seeks balance. I don’t mean it has to be 50-50. When there is an imbalance nature will find a way to restore it.

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