UCL Donors help fund a forgotten treatment for TB

13 February 2014

UCL donors John and Ann – Margaret Walton have made possible research to progress the understanding of tuberculomucin, a potential alternative treatment for TB that was invented before the Second World War.

The research taking place at the UCL Divisions of Infection and Immunity, and Medicine along with the UCL Department of Science & Technology Studies aims to explore the mode of action of  tuberculomucin to assess its viability as an alternative treatment for TB. Dr Freidrich Weleminsky developed it as a possible cure for TB in the early 20th Century. Historians and scientists will work together to understand the history of tuberculomucin as a TB treatment in the pre-antibiotic period and its possible application today.

Our research so far indicates that tuberculomucin had potential, but the start of the Second World War and discovery of antibiotics meant that the treatment was “lost”. In 2011, UCL was approached by Dr Weleminsky’s granddaughter, Dr Charlotte Jones, a retired GP who described her grandfather's treatment for TB. Today, certain strains of TB are now becoming resistant to the antibiotics we use to treat them, and alternative approaches need to be found urgently.

The generous gift from the Waltons will continue driving this project forward to identify new ways of treating TB, which after HIV/AIDS is the second largest single infectious agent in the world, affecting nearly 9 million people per year and killing more than 1 million.

‘Tuberculomucin – a forgotten treatment – may give us a powerful new method of combatting this ancient but continually burdensome disease which has always claimed more lives amongst the young and economically active than any other age group’

Dr Carole Reeves, UCL

Using the information provided by Dr Charlotte Jones, the expertise of UCL academics and a very generous donation from John and Ann – Margaret Walton, UCL can now progress research into tuberculomucin and give TB patients hope for the future.

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