Cheap drug treats amoebic parasite patients

Updated: 2012-05-23 10:44

(China Daily)

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A cheap generic drug, commonly used for arthritis, could be a wonder treatment for the amoebic parasites that infect 50 million people annually, including 70,000 fatal cases, a study says.

Researchers in California found that auranofin, an oral therapy for arthritis that has been around since 1985, is highly effective against the parasite Entamoeba histolytica.

Carried in water and food, the parasite is a major but often neglected hazard in poor countries. It causes amoebic dysentery and liver abscesses.

Auranofin was found thanks to a high-tech program to screen potential drugs for "orphan" diseases.

It was tested on parasites in a lab dish, then on mice with amoebic colitis and on hamsters with amoebic liver cysts, according to the study, published in the journal Nature Medicine.

China Daily-Agencies