Natural substances in the plant help treat tuberculosis

This plant is the so-called annual mugwort. The active ingredients of the plant have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for a long time. Researchers found that artemisinin contained in it made it possible to treat tuberculosis more effectively. (Image: emer / fotolia.com)

Active ingredient artemisinin facilitates successful treatment
Doctors keep discovering active ingredients in nature that can be used to treat diseases. Researchers have now found that artemisinin can be helpful in treating tuberculosis. This natural compound comes from the so-called annual mugwort (Artemisia annua). The plant has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine.

'

Michigan State University scientists did a study that found that a natural compound from annual mugwort can be effective for tuberculosis. The doctors published the results of their study in the journal "Nature Chemical Biology".

This plant is the so-called annual mugwort. The active ingredients of the plant have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for a long time. Researchers found that artemisinin contained in it made it possible to treat tuberculosis more effectively. (Image: emer / fotolia.com)

Artemisinin prevents the dormant state of Mtb pathogens
The compound artemisinin is obtained from the plant annual mugwort (Artemisia annua) and is, for example, highly effective against drug-resistant malaria. The plant is usually used in traditional Chinese medicine. A current study has now shown that artemisinin can prevent a special ability of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb). Due to the active ingredient, the tuberculosis pathogen is no longer able to go into a so-called dormant state. This phase of the disease often makes the use of antibiotics ineffective, explain the experts.

Artemisinin can significantly reduce the duration of treatment
When Mtb is dormant, they become very tolerant of antibiotics, say the medical professionals. Blocking the present effect makes the bacteria more sensitive to these types of drugs. This could significantly shorten the treatment times, explains the author Dr. Abramovitch.

Effects of artemisinin on Mtb
Mtb needs oxygen to thrive in the human body. The immune system quasi suffocates this bacterium through the artemisinin. This allows the infection to be better controlled. The scientists also found that artemisinin attacks a molecule called heme, which is a type of oxygen sensor for Mtb.

Artemisinin blocks Mtb's oxygen sensor
By interrupting or switching off this sensor, artemisinin, so to speak, stops the disease's ability to determine exactly how much oxygen has been absorbed, the scientists explain. When Mtb has not received enough oxygen, it goes into a dormant state. This effect protects against exposure to low oxygen levels. If Mtb can't determine it's getting too little oxygen, it can't go to sleep and die, says author Dr. Abramovitch.

Mtb is difficult to control
Mtb at rest can remain inactive and thus even last for decades in the body. If the immune system is weakened strong enough, Mtb can become active again and spread further, the researchers explain. Regardless of whether it is active or asleep, treatment can last up to six months. This is one of the main reasons why the disease is so difficult to control.

Another five potentially useful inhibitors discovered
After screening 540,000 different compounds, the authors also found five other possible chemical inhibitors that address the so-called Mtb oxygen sensor in different ways and could also be effective in treatment.

Results could shorten tuberculosis therapy course
Current research could be the key to shortening the course of treatment for tuberculosis. For this reason, treatment can also reach the dormant, hard-to-kill bacteria. In this way, patients can benefit and the development of drug-resistant Mtb could be slowed down or possibly prevented entirely. (as)

Tags:  Other Subjects Symptoms