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AstraZeneca starts mid-stage TB drug trial in South Africa

LONDON (Reuters) - A new experimental drug that may fight drug-resistant strains of the lung disease tuberculosis is being tested in South Africa, where the first patient has been enrolled into a mid-stage clinical trial.

AstraZeneca, which developed the medicine known as AZD5847, is working with the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine on the Phase IIa clinical study.

Scientists have found an alarming number of cases of TB that are resistant to many of the most powerful existing antibiotic drugs, underlining the need for new treatments.

AstraZeneca's new drug is still several years from reaching the market. Even if it works in the trial, further tests will still be needed before it is approved for use.

The British drugmaker said on Tuesday it planned to test AZD5847 in further clinical trials as part of one or more next-generation combination therapies against TB.

(Reporting by Ben Hirschler; Editing by Helen Massy-Beresford)

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