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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Dexcom: changing the lives of people with type 1 diabetes
It is estimated that 9.3% of adults around the world are living with type 1 diabetes, which amounts to a total of 463 million people. A further 1.1 million children and adolescents under the age of 20 are living with the condition.
Unlike the more prevalent type 2 diabetes, where the body still produces insulin and symptoms develop slowly, people with type 1 diabetes need regular insulin injections or pumps, and must monitor their sugar levels frequently.
In recent years a number of remote glucose monitoring systems have become available that patients can use at home. These work with a sensor, usually placed under the skin, that measures glucose levels every few minutes. This information is then transmitted wirelessly to a device like a smartphone or tablet, which can then be shared with their clinician.
British actress Nina Wadia's son Aidan, 14, has type 1 diabetes, and has been managing his condition using Dexcom, a glucose monitoring system used by patients all over the world. Here Wadia explains how Dexcom has improved their lives.
As a parent of someone with type 1 diabetes, what is your day-to-day life like?
Being able to take a breath, think and pivot constantly without getting frustrated becomes an essential mindset because sometimes it feels like each day is determined to be different from the day before. Whatever worked yesterday is going to misfire today.
Which areas of yours and Aidan’s life are most impacted by diabetes?
The one thing that you have to fight hard to reclaim is spontaneity, especially when it comes to food and exercise. It’s only when this is taken do you realise how essential each one is. You can be flexible and there are no real limits, but only in the sense that a great athlete can be flexible without limits because they’ve trained super hard to be that way. So we’ve all had to become athletes when it comes to being spontaneous.
How has Dexcom helped you and Aidan?
Dexcom has brought future science fiction to real life today. The continuous glucose monitoring system is tiny, sits discreetly on his body and gives him a ten-day breather between sensor changes, so it's goodbye finger-pricking seven times daily.
Dexcom is totally active at a grass roots level and for Diabetes Awareness has pledged to donate £2,000 if #DexcomDiabetesStories and/or #DexcomWarriorStories is shared 200 times! I’ll be sharing more on social media and would love to hear how other families are winning their fights.
Maybe most importantly Dexcom is trying to introduce a reimbursement programme for type 1 diabetes patients which will give greater access to modern, life changing hi-tech. I want to spread the word on the importance of accessing it through this campaign.
If you compared your life today with how it was before Aidan was using Dexcom, what has changed?
It's always working, which lets him take his mind off diabetes for longer stretches. It also lets me get off his back. We both receive alerts so I no longer have to pester him by asking him what his number is, and especially importantly, I don’t have to wake him at night to prick his finger if I’m worried. Dexcom gave us back our sleep!