A new discovery by Michigan State University (MSU) scientists suggests that a common medication used to treat glaucoma could also be used to treat tuberculosis (TB), even the drug-resistant forms. Dr. Robert Abramovitch, an MSU microbiologist, along with graduate student Benjamin Johnson, who helped lead the study, have discovered that ethoxzolamide, a sulfa-based compound found in many prescription glaucoma drugs, actually turns off the TB mycobacterium's ability to invade the immune system. The research paper was published in the August 2015 issue of Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy. The article is titled “The Carbonic Anhydrase Inhibitor Ethoxzolamide Inhibits the Mycobacterium tuberculosis PhoPR Regulon and Esx-1 Secretion and Attenuates Virulence.” "Basically, ethoxzolamide stops TB from deploying its weapons...shutting down its ability to grow inside certain white blood cells in the immune system," Dr. Abramovitch said. "We found the compound reduces disease symptoms in mice." According to Dr. Abramovitch, TB mycobacteria may not have eyes and ears, but they have an uncanny ability to sense certain environmental cues in the body and to adapt. One of these abilities is the organism’s ability to detect pH, which is key because particular acid levels indicate to the organism that it is being attacked by a host immune cell and prompt the organism to take effective counter-measures. "The compound we found inhibits TB's ability to detect acidic environments, effectively blindfolding the mycobacterium so it can't resist the immune system's assault," Dr. Abramovitch said. It's estimated that 2 billion people, globally, carry the TB infection, but in most cases it lies dormant and the immune system is able to prevent it from spreading through the body. "It's a standoff, however," Dr.
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