The finding could lead to better treatment of the roughly 10 million people worldwide who fall ill with tuberculosis each year, the researchers said.
“We wanted to address open questions regarding treatment for tuberculosis,” said study first author Elsje Pienaar from University of Michigan in the US.
“First, can we use the antibiotics that we have in a better way? And if we can change the ones that we have in some way, what modifications would be best?,” Pienaar said.
The computer simulations used in the study showed that daily treatment with both antibiotics is the best way to go, but even then, the drugs have a hard time killing off all of the TB bacteria.
Looking for a way to kill these holdouts, the team investigated whether increasing the number of doses would help raise the antibiotic concentrations inside the granulomas.
They found that upping the doses to nine per week, they were able to cut the time until the bacteria were wiped out by about 10 days, on average.
The computer model is based on data from experiments with rabbits and macaque monkeys.
The study was published in the journal BMC Systems Biology.