Four years ago, South African stylist Innocent Molefe learned he had tuberculosis. Three years later, the disease became multi-resistant, requiring treatment with painful bites and many seals.
But thanks to a new cure, approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Wednesday, it is now cured of this serious, airborne, lung infection that can spread to the brain.
So much so that he was not only able to go back to work, but also to go back to the dance floors of the nightclubs, an activity he had to interrupt during his illness.
"I'm living proof that you can beat TB, and I can even dance to the end of the night," says Innocent Molefe, 38, at his home in Soweto.
The new therapy that has cured the stylist of his antibiotic-resistant tuberculosis will drastically reduce the duration of treatment and improve its effectiveness.
It combines three drugs, bedaquiline, linezolid and pretomanide.
This latest preparation, developed by the TB Alliance, an organization dedicated to finding more effective treatments against tuberculosis and based in New York, received Wednesday clearance from the FDA.
It has been tested in three sites in South Africa, out of a total of 109 patients, with a cure rate of 90% in six months of treatment and six months of therapeutic follow-up.
- "Victory for those who suffer" -
The deadliest infectious disease in the world, tuberculosis, which is as old as humanity, killed 1.6 million people in 2017 - 75,000 of them in South Africa alone, where there were 322,000 people with the disease. year.
The preparation requires five tablets of all three medications a day for six months - a drastic and welcome change from the 30 to 40 daily capsules that patients taking the previous treatment had to take for a much longer period of time. .
"The usual treatment for antibiotic-resistant TB can take 18 to 24 months, with daily bites for six months, which are extremely painful, which makes a huge difference," says Pauline Howell, one of the clinical trial leaders. at the Sizwe Hospital of Tropical Medicine in Johannesburg.
Multidrug-resistant forms of tuberculosis are much longer and costly to treat: while they represented only 5% of cases in 2015, they mobilized about one-third of the resources available to fight the disease.
"The FDA's decision is a victory for all those who suffer," said Mel Spigelman, president of the TB Alliance.
At Johannesburg's Sizwe Hospital, Nxumalo, who lives in Katlehong Township, comes to his follow-up appointment.
"With the old treatment, I will already be throwing up," says the 23-year-old unemployed. "But with researchers, it's so much easier."
© 2019 AFP