Neglected tropical diseases

Significant progress in Buruli ulcer research

28 February 10 | Geneva

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Two recent studies, carried out separately, have shed more light into the diagnosis and clinical management of Buruli ulcer disease.

The first, by a group of Dutch and Ghanaian researchers, supports the recommendation contained in the 2004 provisional WHO guidelines that antibiotic treatment for Mycobacterium ulcerans infection stops the progression of early, limited disease.

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The second study carried out by scientists in the United States has established a better way to detect mycolactone - the toxin secreted by Mycobacterium ulcerans, the causative organism of Buruli ulcer disease.

This is a significant development as it paves the way for an easy and more practical method to diagnose Buruli ulcer disease in its early stages.

"… [This study] brings us a little bit closer to our ultimate goal of developing an oral treatment for the disease … and this will facilitate the implementation in the field as we get away from injectable streptomycin … "

Dr. Kingsley Asiedu, Medical Officer in charge of Buruli ulcer, Department of Neglected Tropical Diseases, Geneva.

"… Treating patients with early, limited Buruli ulcer resulted in a very high cure rate … this treatment took only 8 weeks …"

Prof. T.S Van der Werf, University of Groningen, The Netherlands.

"… The potential for detecting mycolactone in small quantities is that we could be able to develop a simple test which could be done in unsophisticated laboratories …"

Dr. Mark Wansborough Jones, Consultant Physician, St George's Hospital, London UK.

Antimicrobial treatment for early, limited Mycobacterium ulcerans infection: a randomised controlled trial, by
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