A drug that is effective against a dangerous and potentially lethal parasite has been identified by leading researchers.
Scientists from the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), the University of California San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine and Wake Forest School of Medicine have found the rheumatoid arthritis medication auranofin can help to treat people attacked by Entamoeba hisotolica.
This parasite causes the deaths of at least 70,000 people throughout the world every year through issues such as liver abscesses and amoebic dysentery.
It causes human amoebiasis and is the world's fourth most fatal protozoan intestinal parasite.
The US' Centre for Disease Control's Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria notes the condition is most commonplace in the developing world, although there are a number of at-risk groups within industrialised nations.
Furthermore, as auranofin has already been licensed for use in humans by the US' Food and Drug Administration, international healthcare firms can avoid significant parts of the lengthy and expensive development process when bringing it to market.
The study, which is published in the journal Nature Medicine, was led by professor in the UCSD Departments of Pathology and Medicine Sharon Reed and professor of Pathology in the UCSF Sandler Center for Drug Discovery James McKerrow.
In a hamster model of amoebic liver abscess and a mouse model of amoebic colitis, auranofin significantly reduced the size of the abscesses, cut the amount of damage caused by inflammation and markedly reduced the amount of parasites.