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Trials on to reduce DOTS period

Special Correspondent
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V. Kumaraswami, Officer-in-Charge, National Institute of Epidemiology, Chennai (second from right), interacting with participants and students during the inaugural of a three-day international conference on Bioengineering in SRM University, Kattankulathur, on Thursday. — Photo: A. Muralitharan.
V. Kumaraswami, Officer-in-Charge, National Institute of Epidemiology, Chennai (second from right), interacting with participants and students during the inaugural of a three-day international conference on Bioengineering in SRM University, Kattankulathur, on Thursday. — Photo: A. Muralitharan.

Drug trials for reducing the time period of administering medicines to those with tuberculosis under the six-month Directly Observed Therapy, Short Course (DOTS) by two months had started over one year ago and they were still in the middle of it, V. Kumaraswami, Officer-in-Charge, National Institute of Epidemiology, Chennai, said on Thursday.

Treatment

Drug and clinical trials for tuberculosis treatment was not easy, unlike other diseases and took a very long time, Dr. Kumaraswami told reporters after inaugurating a three-day international conference on Bioengineering at SRM University in Kattankulathur.

During drug trials, they had to test the medicines on thousands of patients and getting new patients as part of a “clean experiment” was difficult.

Stating that the trials would take some more time, he said the objective was to reduce the period of administering medicines under DOTS from six months to four months.

Earlier, while delivering the inaugural address, Dr. Kumaraswami said tuberculosis had existed for several thousand years and was among the biggest killer diseases with millions all over the world succumbing to it each year.

Though it was an “eminently treatable disease,” it was neglected by physicians, patients and everyone else.

“Resurgence”

“It is so ingrained in society that it does not attract any attention” he remarked, adding that the last drug was made in 1960 and that it was unlikely that any “magic pill” would be created in the next decade and more.

However, there was a turnaround of late, Dr. Kumaraswami said, elaborating that while tuberculosis severely affected emerging economies of the world in the past, it was also beginning to affect developed economies..“There has been a resurgence and a considerable increase in money spent on it,” he said.

Focus

The three-day conference is being organised by the Department of Biotechnology of the School of Bioengineering of the university.

Nine overseas experts are among others taking part in the conference that would focus on biomedical engineering, food and process engineering and allied fields, drug designing and cancer biology among others. T.P. Ganesan, Pro Vice Chancellor, and M. Ponnavaiko, Provost and Chief of Academics, also spoke.

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