Perspectives for personalized therapy for patients with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis

J Intern Med. 2018 May 28. doi: 10.1111/joim.12780. Online ahead of print.


According to the World Health Organization (WHO), tuberculosis is the leading cause of death attributed to a single microbial pathogen worldwide. In addition to the large number of patients affected by tuberculosis, the emergence of Mycobacterium tuberculosis drug-resistance is complicating tuberculosis control in many high-burden countries. During the past 5 years, the global number of patients identified with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB), defined as bacillary resistance at least against rifampicin and isoniazid, the two most active drugs in a treatment regimen, has increased by more than 20% annually. Today we experience a historical peak in the number of patients affected by MDR-TB. The management of MDR-TB is characterized by delayed diagnosis, uncertainty of the extent of bacillary drug-resistance, imprecise standardized drug regimens and dosages, very long duration of therapy and high frequency of adverse events which all translate into a poor prognosis for many of the affected patients. Major scientific and technological advances in recent years provide new perspectives through treatment regimens tailor-made to individual needs. Where available, such personalized treatment has major implications on the treatment outcomes of patients with MDR-TB. The challenge now is to bring these adances to those patients that need them most.

Keywords: MDR-TB; XDR-TB; individualized medicine; personalized medicine.