Deadly ‘brain-eating’ amoeba efficiently handled with repurposed UTI drug

A decades-old drug for urinary tract infections can also work for “brain-eating” amoeba infections, which kill the overwhelming majority of people that contract them, Science magazine reported (opens in new tab).

The drug’s promise was demonstrated in a latest case report, revealed in January within the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases (opens in new tab), which describes a 54-year-old man whose mind was infiltrated by the amoeba Balamuthia mandrillaris. The only-celled organism lives in mud, soil and water, and may enter the physique by way of pores and skin wounds and cuts or by way of the lungs, when it is inhaled, in keeping with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (opens in new tab) (CDC). The amoeba can then infiltrate the bloodstream and journey to the mind, triggering a really uncommon an infection referred to as “granulomatous amebic encephalitis” that kills round 90% of individuals affected. 

“The illness would possibly seem delicate at first however can develop into extra extreme over weeks to a number of months,” the CDC notes.

The person within the case report initially acquired therapy at a Northern California hospital for an unexplained seizure. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) revealed a mass on the left facet of his mind, surrounded by swelling. At this level, the person was transferred to the College of California San Francisco (UCSF) Medical Middle, the place docs took samples of the affected person’s mind tissue and the clear fluid surrounding the mind and spinal wire. This evaluation revealed B. mandrillaris within the man’s mind.  

Associated: Boy dies from rare ‘brain-eating’ amoeba found in splash pad at Texas park 

After consulting the CDC, the affected person’s docs prescribed an aggressive routine of antiparasitic, antibacterial and antifungal medicine. “It is what’s advisable as a result of it was what occurred for use in sufferers who survived,” Dr. Natasha Spottiswoode (opens in new tab), an infectious illness physician-scientist at UCSF and first writer of the case report, informed Science. Sadly, the therapy triggered extreme unwanted effects, together with kidney failure, and the affected person wasn’t but amoeba-free. 


In the hunt for one other resolution, Spottiswoode dug up a 2018 report, revealed within the journal mBio (opens in new tab), during which UCSF scientists discovered proof that an antibiotic referred to as nitroxoline can kill B. mandrillaris in laboratory settings. The drug is authorized in Europe, however not the U.S., so the medical group sought permission from the Meals and Drug Administration to make use of it; they acquired approval, began the affected person on nitroxoline and noticed speedy enchancment, inside every week.

The affected person was quickly discharged from the hospital and he continued to take nitroxoline at residence, together with different drugs; his clinicians plan to finally discontinue his use of the medicine. Within the meantime, UCSF docs are overseeing the case of a second B. mandrillaris-infected affected person who’s began receiving nitroxoline. They’re seeing comparable enhancements, Science reported. 

Learn extra in Science (opens in new tab).  


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