VALDOSTA, Ga – Student researchers at Valdosta State University are making medical history, developing a new way to treat tuberculosis that could save the lives of millions.
While tuberculosis is fairly rare in the United States, with less than 10,000 cases reported in 2017, the same cannot be said for other parts of the globe. According to the World Health Organization, about one-third of the global population is affected by tuberculosis.
“This is a worldwide, humongous problem,” said senior Chemistry student Olivia Moss. “To possibly have an effect on that, no matter how small it is, for me or the community, it’s absolutely insane.”
Moss and other student researchers are being led by Dr. Thomas Manning, a professor at Valdosta State University. He and his students have found a way to take an existing antibiotic that was ineffective in treating TB and have changed the chemistry of it. If their research proves to be successful, then the cost of treating tuberculosis could plunge from thousands upon thousands to a just few dollars.
“We’re not trying to make this some crazy, incredibly expensive thing,” said Moss. “We want this to be accessible if it works.”
The team has also found a new method of administering treatment, via a small implant. Once implanted, the device would slowly dissolve, releasing the correct dosage over time, reducing the need for pills and doctor visits.
VSU said the treatment is currently in the early stages of clinical trial in India, where tuberculosis affects 40% of their population.
“If this truly works, it could revolutionize tuberculosis treatment,” said Moss. “And that’s insane to think that we could do that here at VSU.”