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Telacebec for ultra-short treatment of Buruli ulcer in a mouse model

By Deepak V Almeida, Paul J Converse, Till F. Omansen, Sandeep Tyagi, Rokeya Tasneen, Jeongjun Kim, Eric Nuermberger

Posted 12 Feb 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.02.10.943175 (published DOI: 10.1128/AAC.00259-20)

Telacebec (Q203) is a new anti-tubercular drug with extremely potent activity against Mycobacterium ulcerans. Here, we explored the treatment-shortening potential of Q203 alone or in combination with rifampin in a mouse footpad infection model. The first study compared Q203 at 5 and 10 mg/kg doses alone and with rifampin. Q203 alone rendered most mouse footpads culture-negative in 2 weeks. Combining Q203 with rifampin resulted in relapse-free cure 24 weeks after completing 2 weeks of treatment, compared to a 25% relapse rate in the rifampin-clarithromycin control group treated for 4 weeks. The second study explored the dose-ranging activity of Q203 alone and with RIF, including the extended activity of Q203 after treatment discontinuation. The bactericidal activity of Q203 persisted for ≥ 4 weeks beyond the last dose. All mice receiving just 1 week of Q203 at 2 and 10 mg/kg were culture-negative 4 weeks after stopping treatment. Mice receiving 2 weeks of Q203 at 0.5, 2 and 10 mg/kg were culture-negative 4 weeks after treatment. Rifampin did not increase the activity of Q203. A pharmacokinetics sub-study revealed that Q203 doses of 2-10 mg/kg in mice produce plasma concentrations similar to those produced by 100-300 mg doses in humans, with no adverse effect of rifampin on Q203 concentrations. These results indicate the extraordinary potential of Q203 to reduce the duration of treatment necessary for cure to ≤ 1 week (or 5 doses of 2-10 mg/kg) in our mouse footpad infection model and warrant further evaluation in clinical trials.

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