NYU logo A new study claims that patients with cavitary pulmonary tuberculosis receiving anti-TB medications in addition with nebulized interferon – gamma apparently have lesser bacilli in the lungs and not much inflammation. Thus it could decrease the transmissibility of tuberculosis in the initial stage of treatment.

Tuberculosis is supposed to be a deadly infectious disease which may be caused by mycobacteria. It usually attacks the lungs but could also affect the central nervous system, the lymphatic system, the circulatory system, the genitourinary system, the gastrointestinal system, bones, joints and even the skin.

Approximately one-third of the world’s population is apparently affected by TB, which may lead to around 9.2 million active cases each year. It is usually spread between people who live together or are in close contact with each other like family members or close friends. By 2020, there is apparently an estimate that almost 1 billion people may get affected by TB. The World Health Organization has supposedly set a goal of dividing the occurrence and mortality of the disease by 2015.

This study claims that patients who inhale interferon through a nebulizer could decrease their disease’s transmissibility during the first few weeks of treatment.

William N. Rom, MD, MPH, the Judith and Sol Bergstein Professor of Medicine and Environmental Medicine, director of the Bellevue Chest Service, and director of the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center, commented, “Our findings create an opportunity to combat TB bacilli in the lungs and reduce inflammation in the early stages of the disease when the tuberculosis is transmissible. Nebulized interferon doesn’t replace medications used to fight tuberculosis, but it shortens the time when the disease is spread—which could be critical for control of the spread of the disease.”

The experts apparently enlisted about 89 suitable patients with active tuberculosis in Cape Town, South Africa, and conducted a clinical trial. Anti-TB medications supplemented with nebulized interferon-gamma were supposedly given to one group of people over a four month duration. The second group supposedly had to consume TB medications alone.

Dr Rom and colleagues found that those patients who inhaled interferon had an apparent considerable reduction in the quantity of tubercle bacilli from the sputum smear in four weeks and there were supposedly fewer symptoms of cough, night sweats, fever and wheezing. It was also discovered that this group claimed to have fewer inflammatory cytokines in lung cells recuperated by bronchoalveolar lavage following four months.

This study was published in the issue of PLoS ONE.