[Development of antituberculous drugs: current status and future prospects]

Kekkaku. 2006 Dec;81(12):753-74.
[Article in Japanese]


Worldwide, tuberculosis (TB) remains the most frequent and important infectious disease causing morbidity and death. One-third of the world's population is infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB), the etiologic agent of TB. The World Health Organization estimates that about eight to ten million new TB cases occur annually worldwide and the incidence of TB is currently increasing. In this context, TB is in the top three, with malaria and HIV being the leading causes of death from a single infectious agent, and approximately two million deaths are attributable to TB annually. In particular, pulmonary TB, the most common form of TB, is a highly contagious and life-threatening infection. Moreover, enhanced susceptibility to TB in HIV-infected populations is another serious health problem throughout the world. In addition, multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) has been increasing in incidence in many areas, not only in developing countries but industrialized countries as well, during the past decade. These situations, particularly the global resurgence of TB and the rapid emergence of MDR-TB, underscore the importance of the development of new antituberculous drugs and new protocols for efficacious clinical control of TB patients using ordinary antimycobacterial drugs. Concerning the development of new antituberculous drugs, the following points are of particular importance. (1) Development of drugs which display lasting antimycobacterial activity in vivo is desirable, since they can be administered with long intervals and consequently facilitate directly observed therapy and enhance patient compliance. (2) Development of novel antituberculosis compounds to combat MDR-TB is urgently needed. (3) The eradication of slowly metabolizing and, if possible, dormant populations of MTB organisms that cause relapse, using new classes of anti-TB drugs is very promising for prevention of TB incidence, because it will markedly reduce the incidence of active TB from persons who are latently infected with MTB. Unfortunately, no new drugs except rifabutin and rifapentine has been marketed for TB in the US and other countries during the 40 years after release of rifampicin. There are a number of constraints that have deterred companies from investing in new anti-TB drugs. The research is expensive, slow and difficult, and requires specialized facilities for handling MTB. There are few animal models that closely mimic the human TB disease. Development time of any anti-TB drug will be long. In fact, clinical trials will require the minimum six-month therapy, with a follow-up period of one year or more. In addition, it is hard to demonstrate obvious benefit of a new anti-TB agents over pre-existing drugs, since clinical trials involve multidrug combination therapy using highly effective ordinary anti-TB drugs. Finaly, there is the perceived lack of commercial return to companies engaged in the development of new anti-TB drugs, because over 95% of TB cases worldwide are in developing countries. In this symposium, we reviewed the following areas. 1. Critical new information on the entire genome of MTB recently obtained and increasing knowledge of various mycobacterial virulence genes are greatly promoting the identification of genes that code for new drug targets. In this context, Dr. Namba reviewed the status of new types of compounds which are being developed as anti-TB drug. He also discussed the development of new antimycobacterial drugs according to new and potential pharmacological targets and the best clinical development plans for new-TB drugs in relation to corporate strategy. 2. Using such findings for mycobacterial genomes, bioinformatics/genomics/proteomics-based drug design and drug development using quantitative structure-activity relationships may be possible in the near future. In this context, Dr. Suwa and Dr. Suzuki reviewed the usefulness of chemical genomics in searching novel drug targets for development of new antituberculous drugs. The authors reviewed (1) the history and present status of chemical genomics that is defined as the systemic search for a selective small molecular modulator for each function of all gene products, (2) recent studies of the authors on profiles of the interactions between various kinds of human proteins and small molecule modulators using the new technology devised by Reverse Proteomics Research Institute, and (3) future prospects of the development of new antituberculous drugs based on chemical genomics. 3. It appears also promising to develop new types of drug administration systems using drug vehicles, which enable efficacious drug delivery to their target in vivo. Dr. Izumikawa, Dr. Ohno and Dr. Kohno reviewed the usefulness of liposome- and polymer-based technologies, which enable efficacious delivery of encapsulated drugs at required doses for prolonged periods of time with only a single shot without toxicity, and also enable highly targeted delivery of drugs to their target in vivo. They indicated that the applications of drug delivery system using conventional anti-mycobacterial agents are challenging to improve the compliance of treatment and better clinical outcome. 4. Immunoadjunctive therapy appears to be promising in improving outcome of clinical control of refractory mycobacterial infections, including MDR-TB and M. avium complex infection. Dr. Shimizu, Dr. Sato and Dr. Tomioka reviewed the present status of immunotherapy of mycobacterial infections in combination with antimycobacterial drugs. They indicated that the development of new classes of immunomodulators other than cytokines (IL-2, IFN-gamma, GM-CSF, IL-12, etc.) particularly those with no severe side-effects, are urgently needed. Their review dealed with some promising immunoadjunctive agents, especially ATP and its analogues, which potentiate macrophage antimycobacterial activity via purinergic P2 receptors. The aim of this symposium is to address the future prospects of the development of new drugs and drug regimens for anti-TB chemotherapy. There are a number of difficulties in drug-design for the development of new drug formulations with increased potential for antimycobacterial effects, excellent pharmacokinetics, and tolerability. It should be emphasized that the most urgent goal of chemotherapy of TB and MAC infections, especially that associated with HIV infection, is to develop highly active, low-cost drugs which can be used not only in industrialized countries but also in developing countries, since the incidences of AIDS-associated intractable TB and MAC infections are rapidly increasing in the latter. We strongly wish a great advance of fundametal and practical studies in developing such kinds of new anti-TB drugs in the near future. 1. Prospects for non-clinical or clinical development of new antituberculous drugs in relation to corporate strategy: Kenji NAMBA (New Product Research Laboratories I, Daiichi Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.) Tuberculosis (TB) remains one of the deadliest threats to public health. No new anti-TB drugs have been brought into the clinic in the past 40 years. Current non-clinical works with progressed technology and Global Alliance for TB Drug Development, a non-profit organization established in 2000, accelerate research and development of faster-acting anti-TB compounds. We reviewed the status of new types of compounds which are being developed as anti-TB drug, such as diarylquinoline (TMC 207), nitroimidazole (PA-824 and OPC-67683), and moxifloxacin (MFLX). We also discussed the best clinical development plans for new-TB drugs in relation to corporate strategy. 2. Exploring novel drug targets through the chemical genomics approach and its possible application to the development of anti-tuberculosis drugs: Yorimasa SUWA (Reverse Proteomics Research Institute Co., Ltd.), Yohji SUZUKI (Teijin Ltd.) Recently, chemical genomics approach has been focused as an emerging technology for the drug discovery. In advance to a very large scale national project in US started last year, Reverse Proteomics Research Institute Co., Ltd. (REPRORI) has developed the core technologies for chemical genomics. Here we describe the outline of chemical genomics study, especially that of REPRORI, and discuss about its possible application to the development of anti-tuberculosis drugs. 3. Anti-mycobacterial agents and drug delivery: Koichi IZUMIKAWA, Hideaki OHNO, Shigeru KOHNO (Second Department of Internal Medicine, Nagasaki University School of Medicine) Mycobacterium infection is a major clinical concern in whole world. Since the newly developed anti-mycobacterial agents are few and still unavailable in clinical settings, the applications of drug delivery system using conventional anti-mycobacterial agents are challenging to improve the compliance of treatment and better efficacy. The efficacy of anti-mycobacterial agents modified by liposome or polymer based technology have been investigated and reported using various animal models. Drug delivery system increased and prolonged the drug concentrations at the blood and targeted organs and the duration of sustained drug release, respectively. These effects lead to decrease in the frequency of drug administrations dramatically and better efficacy rates. The studies, however, were performed only in animal models, the further investigations and evaluations in human are required for practical use. 4. Adjunctive immunotherapy of mycobacterial infections: Toshiaki SHIMIZU, Katsumasa SATO, Haruaki TOMIOKA (Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Shimane University School of Medicine) There is an urgent need to develop new antimicrobials and protocols for the administration of drugs that are potently efficacious against intractable mycobacterial infections. Unfortunately, development of the new drugs for solving this problem is not progressing. (ABSTRACT TRUNCATED)

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antitubercular Agents*
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Computational Biology*
  • Cytokines / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Cytokines / physiology
  • Dosage Forms
  • Drug Delivery Systems*
  • Drug Design*
  • Drug Industry
  • Genomics / trends
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Factors / therapeutic use
  • Immunotherapy*
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / genetics
  • Tuberculosis / microbiology
  • Tuberculosis / therapy*


  • Antitubercular Agents
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Cytokines
  • Dosage Forms
  • Immunologic Factors