NTU researcher discovers the cure for flesh-eating common tropical disease

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Nanyang Technological University (NTU) researcher has found a drug which is claimed to be the most effective substance to kill Buruli ulcer-causing bacteria.

A rare and exotic bacterial infection of the skin and soft tissue, called Buruli ulcer is classified as a neglected tropical disease. It is a flesh-eating infectious disease which is very common in West and Central Africa, as well as in Japan and in Australia, and some increasing number of cases have been reported since 2013.

Microbiologist Associate Professor Kevin Pethe of NTU's Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine has found the drug candidate, Q203, in phase II clinical trials for the treatment of tuberculosis, which is caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

Prof Pethe suspected that the Q203 could also be used to treat Buruli ulcer, which is caused by the closely-related Mycobacterium ulcerans.

In his study, Prof Pethe clearly stated that Q203 is highly effective against Buruli ulcer-causing bacteria, even at low doses.

In term of the further use of this drug candidate, researchers are also trying to use it to treat leprosy, a disease highly endemic in India, Indonesia and other Asian regions. It should be noted that this particular disease is caused by yet another closely related bacterium, Mycobacterium leprae.

The recent study, "Targeting the Mycobacterium ulcerans cytochrome bc1:aa3 for the treatment of Buruli ulcer", was published in Nature Communications.

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