A recent study reveals that artemisinin, a compound found in sweet wormwood, shows potential in tuberculosis treatment. This Chinese herbal medicine is previously known for its efficacy in treating malaria. Researchers at the Michigan State University have discovered that the compound prevents Mycobacterium tuberculosis, a tuberculosis-causing bacteria, from becoming dormant. Dormancy was associated with antibiotic resistance in patients.
Lead researcher Dr. Robert Abramovitch explains that dormant bacteria become highly tolerant to antibiotic therapy. Inhibiting dormancy makes the tuberculosis bacteria more susceptible to drug treatments and shortens treatment duration. To test this, researchers engineered a tuberculosis strain that glows bright green upon the onset of dormancy. A vast number of compounds were then assessed to see if they could prevent the bacteria from becoming dormant.