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Experimental evaluation of possible new short-term drug regimens for treatment of multibacillary leprosy.


Groups of nude mice, with both hind footpads infected with 10(8) Mycobacterium leprae organisms, were treated with 4-week courses of different drug combinations. The effect treatment on each group was evaluated by subinoculating footpad homogenates from the treated mice into groups of normal and nude mice for subsequent regrowth, assessed 1 year later. A combination of rifampin (RMP) with clarithromycin (CLARI), minocycline (MINO), and ofloxacin (OFLO) resulted in the complete killing of M. leprae after 3 weeks of treatment. A combination of sparfloxacin (SPAR) and RMP also resulted in a similar bactericidal effect after 3 weeks of treatment. Other drug combinations showed variable effects. Very little or no effect was observed with any regimen if the treatment was given for less than 2 weeks. World Health Organization (WHO) multidrug therapy (MDT) given for 8 weeks was as effective as the two combinations described above. The results suggest that multidrug combinations consisting of RMP-OFLO (or SPAR)-CLARI (and/or MINO) are as effective as the WHO MDT for the treatment of experimental leprosy. Moreover, they imply that these combinations, which were found to be active in a 4-week experimental treatment protocol, could be administered as treatment to patients for a period of time shorter than the present 2-year regimen without a loss of effectiveness.

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Journal Article
Banerjee D K
McDermott-Lancaster R D
McKenzie S