Could XDR TB be treated like lung cancer?

Andrew Speaker, aka TB Guy, is going to have part of his lung removed to help get rid of the TB bacteria.

Since Speaker has a strain that is resistant to drug therapy, could chemo or radiation treatments used on lung cancer patients work? These procedures are designed to kill fast growing cells and (I think) they don’t differentiate between bacteria and the target cancer cells.


Doesn’t radiation wreck the immune system? It does on House. Should I not be citing House?

The immune suppression caused by either chemo or radiation in fact leaves one more vulnerable to TB, not less.

One of the big challenges with treating TB is that those bacilli are relatively slow growing. The fact that they turn over slowly makes catching them in a vulnerable phsase quite problematic.

Which is one reason that the drug sensitive, latent TB infection still requires taking an antibiotic for 9 months to have a 96% chance of knocking it out.

Thank you everybody. :slight_smile:

I thought that “drug resistant” also meant that the immune system couldn’t take it on. In hind sight, its a foolish thing to think. White blood cells and their counterparts have been fighting all sorts of organisms for a long time.

Also, I’ve been spoiled by my mice. In experiments, I irradiated* them and then give them bone marrow to reconstitute their immune system. Since we have strains that have been genetically altered to only have certain parts of their immune system functioning, we can talior their response to organ transplant. (Well, that’s the idea. It doesn’t work all of the time.)

The human treatment I had in mind: Nuke Speaker. Give him bone marrow - either is own, banked before the treatment, or from a donor. Looking back, this wouldn’t work because, if any TB survived the radiation, it could kill Speaker before the immune reconstitution was complete.

*Since I’m pregnant, I’ve steped down from the mouse shake and bake.