Cheap arthritis drug is a promising dysentery treatment
There is hope that an existing arthritis drug could be used to treat dysentery and amoebic infections.
Research carried out in the US has found that auranofin, which is marketed as ridaura, is 10 times more effective than metronidazole (the current treatment) at killing the Entamoeba histolytica parasite, which causes dysentery.
Although the researchers have said more trials need to be carried out in humans, early stage animal tests of the drug have shown great promise in its ability to successfully treat amoebic dysentery and maybe even Giardia.
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Amoebic dysentery is responsible for approximately 70,000 deaths a year, mostly in developing countries and its symptoms consist of diarrhoea and stomach cramps.
It can also cause abscesses to form on the liver.
Auranofin, which has been used to treat arthritis since 1985, is able to significantly reduce the number of dysentery-causing parasites, as well as shrinking the size of liver abscesses on the liver.
It is thought the drug could would effective if it was taken as a one-off tablet or in a number of times in very small doses.
The team of researchers, who were from universities from across America, discovered auranofin’s potential while they were testing 910 drugs that had already been approved by regulatory authorities.
“When we're looking for new treatments for the developing world, we start with drugs that have already been approved,” explained Professor James McKerrow, from the University of California at San Francisco’s Sadler Centre for Drug Discovery.
“If we can find an approved drug that happens to kill these organisms, we've leapfrogged the development process that goes into assessing whether they are safe, which also makes them affordable throughout the world.”
Meanwhile the lead researcher, Professor Sharon Reed, from the University of California in San Diego, added: “Because auranofin has already been approved for use in humans, we can save years of expensive development.
“This new use of an old drug represents a promising therapy for a major health threat.”
The findings of the study have now been published in the journal Nature Medicine.
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Bachem turns 50 - a timeline
Bachem, a supplier to pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies worldwide, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this month. We take a look at the Swiss company's history.
1971 - beginnings
Bachem is founded by entrepreneur Peter Grogg in Liestal, a small town near Basel in Switzerland. Grogg started the firm with just two employees, and with a focus on peptide synthesis - peptides are composed of amino acids that have a variety of functions treating health conditions such as cancer and diabetes.
1977 - 1981 - early growth
Bachem moves its headquarters to the Swiss town of Bubendorf, with eight employees. In 1978 the company produces peptides for use in medicines for the first time. In 1981 production capacity triples and the workforce grows to 150.
1987 - 1996 - worldwide expansion
The company expands into the US with Bachem Bioscience, Inc. in Philadelphia. To strengthen its presence in Europe, Bachem opens sales and marketing centres in Germany in 1988.
Further sales centres open in France in 1993. By 1995 the company employs 190 people. In 1996 it acquires the second largest manufacturer of peptides in the world and forms Bachem California with a site in Torrance.
1998 - 2003 - Bachem goes public
Bachem company goes public and lists shares on the Swiss Stock Exchange. Further acquisitions include Peninsula Laboratories, Inc, based in California, and Sochinaz SA, a Swiss-based manufacturer of active pharmaceutical ingredients. By 2001, the company has 500 employees and sales reach 141 million CHF.
In 2003 the organisation is given a new legal holding structure to support its continued growth, which remains in place to this day.
2007 - 2013 - acquisitions
Bachem acquires a brand by Merck Biosciences for ready-to-use clinical trial materials and related services.
In 2013, together with GlyTech, Inc. Bachem announces the development of a new amino acid that can help to treat multiple sclerosis, with a world market of more than $4 billion.
In 2015 it acquires the American Peptide Company (APC), which becomes integrated into Bachem Americas.
2016 - 2019 - a global leader
In 2016 the group opens a new building dedicated to R&D projects and small series production in Bubendorf. With a total of 1,022 employees, the workforce exceeds the 1,000 mark for the first time in the company’s history. Sales are over the 200 million mark for the first time at 236.5 million CHF.
Bachem expands into Asia with the establishment of a new company in Tokyo called Bachem Japan K.K.
By 2019 Bachem has a growing oligonucleotide portfolio - these are DNA molecules used in genetic testing, research, and forensics. It is hoped this will become a significant product range in the future.
2020 - COVID-19
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Bachem secures its supply of active ingredients, and even increases it in critical areas. Sales exceed the 400 million Swiss franc mark for the first time, and 272 new employees are hired.
2021 - a milestone anniversary
Bachem celebrates its 50th anniversary and position as a global leader in the manufacture of peptides. While it remains headquartered in Bubendorf, the company employs 1,500 people at six locations worldwide. In the next five years there are plans to continue expanding.
Commemorating the company's anniversary, Kuno Sommer, Chairman of the Board of Directors, said: "Bachem's exceptional success story from a small laboratory to a global market leader is closely linked to Peter Grogg's values, and has been shaped by innovation, consistent quality and cost awareness, as well as by entrepreneurial vision."