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Statin, Osteoporosis Drug Combo May Help Treat Parasitic Infections

Update Date: Oct 20, 2013 07:16 PM EDT

Use of two commonly used drugs may also prove to be the foundation of treatment for toxoplasmosis, a new study has found. Toxoplasmosis is is a parasitic infection caused by the protozoan Toxoplasma gondii.

Parasite Toxoplasma gondii has the ability to infect all warm-blooded animals. It has less effect on adults who usually suffer no lasting ill effects from infection but it can cause fatal to unborn fetuses.

“For many years, therapies for toxoplasmosis have focused on drugs that target only the parasite,” said Silvia Moreno, senior author of the article and professor of cellular biology in UGA’s Franklin College of Arts and Sciences in a press release.

“But in this paper, we show how we can hit the parasite with two drugs simultaneously, one that affects body chemistry in the host and one that affects the parasite.”

The researchers from the University of Georgia discovered that the combination of drug atorvastatin and zoledronic acid produced changes in mammalian host and in parasite. It ultimately stopped the parasitic replication and hence the spread of the infection.

“These two drugs have a strong synergy,” said Moreno, member of UGA’s Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases in the press release. “The mice we treated were cured from a lethal infection using this combination approach.”

The experiment also showed that how absence of enzymes would kill the parasites. Researchers developed a genetically modified version of the parasite which lacked specific enzyme essential.

“We kept asking ourselves, ‘How did this happen? This enzyme should be essential to the parasite’s survival,’” said Zhu-Hong Li, a UGA research scientist who is also the lead author of the article. “It’s almost like a human surviving without food or air.”

“These drugs have been studied extensively, they are FDA-approved and safe for most people,” Moreno said in the press release. “Plus, one might not have to take the drugs for an extended period, just long enough to clear the infection.”

The findings of the study is published online in the journal of PLOS Pathogens. 

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