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Cholesterol-Lowering Drug Shows Promise Against Serious Infections in Sickle Cell Disease
Date:1/19/2010

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital scientists lead effort that identifies a novel way statins protect cells from a host of bacterial toxins

MEMPHIS, Tenn., Jan. 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- New research suggests a family of widely used cholesterol-lowering drugs might help protect individuals from serious illness following bacterial infection, including the pneumococcal infections that pose a deadly threat to those with sickle cell disease.

Research led by St. Jude Children's Research Hospital investigators reported that drugs called statins employ several methods to dampen inflammation and block pneumococcus and certain other bacteria from infecting cells and spreading throughout the body. Elaine Tuomanen, M.D., St. Jude Infectious Diseases chair, said those methods include a newly identified mechanism that statins use to protect healthy cells by blocking the toxicity of an entire class of bacteria. Along with pneumococcus, that class includes diphtheria, tetanus, listeria and group A streptococcus, which is also known as the flesh-eating bacterium.

Tuomanen is co-senior author of the study with Carlos Orihuela, Ph.D., University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA). The work is published in the January 19 advanced, online edition of The Journal of Clinical Investigation.

The results provide the foundation for a possible future study to determine if statins, already widely used to lower cholesterol in adults, might protect children with sickle cell disease (SCD) from serious pneumococcal infection. SCD is an inherited blood disorder. The findings also suggest statins might protect others at high risk for pneumonia due to chronic inflammation of
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SOURCE St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
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