An arthritis drug could prove to be an effective medication against parasites that cause dysentery, said researchers. The drug auranofin, known as ridaura, reduces inflammation, thereby combating the effects of rheumatoid arthritis. New studies show it also could help to treat amoebic dysentery and even Giardia. Both of these infections cause symptoms of dysentery, which include severe diarrhea and stomach cramps.
Entamoeba histoytica is the organism that causes amoebic dysentery, which also creates liver abscesses and causes over 70,000 deaths each year worldwide, with most of the deaths in developing countries. U.S. scientists have discovered that auranofin can target the protective enzyme the amoeba must have for survival.
In hamster and mice that were infected, the drug drastically reduced the amount of parasites, the size of abscesses in the liver and damage from inflammation. Tests also indicated that the drug is 10 times stronger than the standard treatment currently in use for dysentery, metronidazole an antibiotic. This suggests that the drug might be used in low doses or a one-time basis.
Permission has been applied for to start new clinical trials that will use auranofin to treat participants that have both Giardia and amoebic dysentery. Because auranofin is already proven safe, the time and cost to develop the treatment for dysentery will be reduced.
One of the co-authors of the study, James McKerrow a professor from the University of California in San Francisco said, “This could be a new treatment that will help the developing world and with a drug already approved for use, it will speed up the process in developing the new treatment.”