Drug Research
Drug Discovery & Development

Research finds gastric acid suppressant lansoprazole could target tuberculosis

PBR Staff Writer Published 23 November 2017

A new research in the UK suggests that a cheap and commonly used drug to treat heartburn, gastritis and ulcers has the potential to target Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacteria that causes tuberculosis (TB).

Through the study, it was discovered that people who used lansoprazole, a widely used gastric acid suppressant were a third less likely to get TB, as opposed to similar drugs omeprazole or pantoprazole.

The research was carried out by University College London (UCL) and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and its findings were published in PLOS Medicine journal. It was financed by Wellcome, the Medical Research Council, and GlaxoSmithKline.

Tom Yates of UCL Institute for Global Health, who is the first author of the research, said: “It would be a major breakthrough to find a new drug with useful activity against Mycobacterium tuberculosis and a favourable side effect profile - particularly a drug like lansoprazole, which costs pennies.

“Laboratory, animal and now epidemiological data are all consistent with lansoprazole acting against the bacteria that cause TB. While it is too early to say whether lansoprazole can be used to treat TB, we think there is a strong case for further study.”

The researchers studied data that was collected routinely by general practices and hospitals across the UK to compare the TB occurrence in 527,364 new users of lansoprazole and 923,500 new users of omeprazole or pantoprazole.

Lansoprazole was found to be effective at killing Mycobacterium tuberculosis according to the researchers in comparison to the two drugs in the same class which did not have any effect on the bacteria.

In people using lansoprazole, 10 cases of TB were reported per 100,000 person years compared to 15.3 cases of the disease in people using omeprazole or pantoprazole.

London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Electronic Health Records Group associate professor Ian Douglas, also the senior author of the research, said: “This study highlights how we can investigate possible new uses for medicines using the wealth of information recorded as part of routine healthcare in the UK.

“Tuberculosis is still a major health problem in many parts of the world, and the results of this study raise the possibility that lansoprazole, a well-established treatment for stomach complaints, may also be useful for treating tuberculosis.”

Image: Photomicrograph of Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria using acid-fast Ziehl-Neelsen stain. Photo: courtesy of CDC/Dr George P. Kubica.