width=311On Wednesday, Australian scientists informed they had discovered a drug that could cure tuberculosis at its non-infectious stage and it could be the first major breakthrough on TB in 50 years.

According to Nick West, bacteriologist, the researchers at Sydney's Centenary Institute had developed a drug that could essentially fight the disease before it takes hold, potentially saving millions of lives across the globe.

We have investigated a protein that is essential for TB to survive and we have had some success in developing a drug that will inhibit this protein, said West.

The goal for scientists now, is to find out the full extent of the drug's potential over the coming months, he said.

It would be the first time in history that dormant or asymptomatic, non-infectious TB would be able to be treated, potentially stemming a deadly tide of infection that claimed two million lives every years, said West.

He elaborated, Unfortunately the antibiotics we use to fight TB aren't effective against latent TB and can only be used when the disease becomes active.

This is a major problem as one out of ten people who have latent TB will develop the active disease, becoming sick and contagious.

He added that if we can figure a way to treat TB at its latent stage, then millions of live across the world, could be saved.

The drug would be the first new treatment since 1962, if successful, announced the institute affiliated with the University of Sydney.

With the disease growing fastest in South East Asia, the estimated number of people to be infected with TB is one third of the world's population or 2 billion people.

The World Health Organization (WHO) warned last week, lethal multidrug-resistant strains of TB were becoming a serious threat to global health, infecting almost half a million people in 2008, of whom one-third died.

Nearly half of the cases of drug resistant were estimated to have occurred in India and China, with an extensively drug-resistant form found in 58 countries, virtually untreatable according to the WHO.