A new study conducted by the researchers of the Centenary Institute in Sydney has found that Aspirin, a medication that is used to treat pain, fever, or inflammation, could treat one of the world’s deadliest infectious disease, tuberculosis.
Tuberculosis (TB) affects more than one-third of the global population and kills over two million people every year. Unfortunately, more and more people are becoming resistant to antibiotics, meaning antibiotics have become less effective.
In search of new treatment options, lead researchers Dr. Elinor Hortle and her team from the Centenary Institute infected zebra fish with a strain of tuberculosis to understand how the pathogenic bacterium survives in the host.
Dr. Hortle noted that platelets, the blood cells that form clots, interact with the pathogenic bacterium, helping them to avoid the host’s immune system.
She said, “What this means is that we can use cheap, safe anti-platelet drugs like Aspirin to block this interaction, and to stop the bacteria from growing.”
The researchers found that a group of zebrafish treated with aspirin and other antiplatelet medications had half the bacterial growth than the group of untreated fish.
This is the first study in which platelets have been found to have a role in inhibiting bacterial growth in animals.
Dr. Hortle explained, “What’s exciting is that this finding has prompted other researchers to look back into hospital records of people who had TB.”
“They show that patients who took aspirin while they were infected had better outcomes than those who didn’t,” she added. “That’s a really good sign that what we’ve found in the fish might also be true in people.” Dr. Hortle added that further studies are required to determine whether the same findings will be seen in human trials.