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Lab tests show arthritis drug effective against global parasite
Date:5/20/2012

making it the third leading cause of illness and fourth leading cause of death due to protozoan infections worldwide. Most of the 70,000 deaths each year are in developing countries, where children are at greatest risk of severe illness. The parasite Giardia also infects between 6 percent and 8 percent of all children in developing countries, causing diarrhea, abdominal cramps and dehydration.

Both amebiasis and giardiasis are currently treated with the antibiotic metronidazole, which has side effects that include nausea, vomiting, dizziness and headache.

The new drug, auranofin, has been used as a twice-daily oral therapy for adults with rheumatoid arthritis since 1985, and has been shown to be safe at that dosage. The researchers' laboratory studies indicated that auranofin would be about ten times more potent than the current treatment for dysentery, meaning it could be given at low dose, and on a one-time or limited basis.

"This is a drug that you can find in every country," said Debnath, a postdoctoral fellow at UCSF who led the research and is first author on the paper. "Based on the dosage we're seeing in the lab, this treatment could be sold at about $2.50 per dose, or lower. That cost savings could make a big difference to the people who need it the most."

International Collaboration

The research stemmed from a joint effort among several labs at UCSF that are affiliated with the California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences (QB3) on UCSF's Mission Bay campus, as well as with the pathology departments in UC San Diego and in the Instituto Politecnico Nacional, in Mexico.

At UCSF, McKerrow's team, which focuses on infectious diseases in the developing world that are not research priorities for pharmaceutical companies, set out to create a screen to identify small molecule drugs that would kill amoebas safely.

The key breakthrough, McKerrow said, was Debnath's development of a high-
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Contact: Kristen Bole
kristen.bole@ucsf.edu
415-502-6397
University of California - San Francisco
Source:Eurekalert

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