Tuberculosis (TB)—which affects a third of the global population—currently kills two million people every year.
TB is a disease caused by infection with the bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
TB most commonly affects a person’s lungs but can also affect other parts of the body and can cause serious illness. TB can be cured with specific antibiotics.
The spread of multi-drug-resistant strains means antibiotics are becoming less effective.
In a recent study from Centenary Institute in Sydney, scientists found that aspirin could be used to treat this deadliest infectious disease.
They infected zebrafish with a close relative of tuberculosis to determine how the deadly bacterium survives within its host.
They found that platelets—the cells which form blood clots—interact with the bacteria, helping them evade the host’s immune system.
This means that doctors can use cheap, safe anti-platelet drugs like aspirin to block this interaction and stop the bacteria from growing.
The result showed that zebrafish treated with aspirin or other antiplatelet drugs had half the bacterial growth of untreated fish.
This is the first time that platelets have been linked to a direct effect on bacterial growth in an animal model.
This finding has prompted other researchers to look back into hospital records of people who had TB.
They showed that patients who took aspirin while they were infected had better outcomes than those who didn’t.
Further research will determine whether the same outcomes will be seen in humans.
If you care about aspirin, please read studies that aspirin could cut cancer death by 20%, and Aspirin, common anti-inflammatory drugs may prevent COVID-19 deaths.
For more information about aspirin, please see recent studies that people over 60 should not take daily aspirin for heart health, and results showing daily aspirin may not benefit healthy older people.
The study was conducted by Dr. Elinor Hortle et al.
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