Could an OTC Antacid Treat Tuberculosis?

The OTC antacid lansoprazole (Prevacid) could actually be a good candidate for treating tuberculosis.

The OTC antacid lansoprazole (Prevacid) could actually be a good candidate for treating tuberculosis.

“Being highly active against drug-resistant strains of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, [the proton pump inhibitor] provides us with an excellent opportunity to treat tuberculosis,” explained Stewart Cole of the Global Health Institute at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in a press release about this research finding.

Cole’s research team tested thousands of approved drugs in the hopes of finding an anti-tuberculosis drug, given that new treatments can take up to 10 years to be approved for use. By testing compounds already approved for human use and repurposing them to treat tuberculosis, investigators can speed up and lower the costs of “new” treatments.

The researchers leveraged a robotized system to see how each drug would work against cultured cells infected with tuberculosis. This novel approach is quicker and more accurate than previous methods, which were manual and often required months to complete.

Using this new method, the researchers discovered that Prevacid could be a potential anti-tuberculosis medication. It was shown to be effective in killing M. tuberculosis if the bacterium grew inside the cells.

Lansoprazole can destroy the bacterium after the human cells convert it into a sulfur-containing metabolite, the researchers explained in a press release.

“This metabolite targets a particular enzyme that is crucial for the bacterium to produce energy, thereby killing it off,” they stated.

This research presents proof of concept for “hit expansion by metabolic activation,” which the researchers said is a powerful tool for antibiotic screens.

“The prodrug lansoprazole represents an excellent example of a valuable hit compound in an existing library that was missed by conventional drug screens,” the study authors concluded. “Using an innovative screen, we found a new activity for an old drug that supports the notion that novel screening platforms may uncover new antibiotics in old libraries.”

These study findings were published in Nature Communications.