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Stroke medication may help treat TB and ulcers

Category: Infectious Diseases

According to recent research published in the The FASEB Journal, a compound known as ebselen which is usually found in medications prescribed to treat stroke, may help combat bacteria that causes ulcers and tuberculosis.

During the study, Arne Holmgren, M.D., Ph.D., from the Division of Biochemistry in the Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics, at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, and her colleagues tested ebselen's antibacterial properties by introducing it to strains of E. coli, and later to bacteria strains, Helicobacter pylori and Mycobacterium tuberculosis. They found that these bacteria forms, which usually have resistant natures, were sensitive to the compound. This has important implications for future treatments, due to bacteria's burgeoning resistance to present day drugs.

"As rapidly as these organisms evolve, we need new drugs sooner rather than later," said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal. "The fact that these scientists have found a new target for killing some of the most resistant bacteria is great news, but the fact that we already have at least one drug which we could possibly use now makes the news even better."

Tuberculosis facts
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), TB is an infectious bacteria that usually targets the lungs and proliferates, spreading to other parts of the body. In 2011, approximately 9 million people contracted TB and there were nearly 1.4 million fatalities attributed to the disease.

People who are most at risk for catching TB include elderly, infants and those who have compromised immune systems due to treatments like chemotherapy and autoimmune diseases like AIDS. People who are in close proximity to those with TB, have poor nutrition and live in crowded areas are more at risk of contracting the disease.

Some symptoms of TB include coughing, sweating at night, fatigue, fever, weight loss, chest pain, wheezing and trouble breathing. There are myriad tests a physician may use to diagnose the condition, such as chest x-ray, CT scan, biopsy, a tuberculin skin test and a interferon-gamma blood test. Doctors may also conduct a physical exam to look for swollen or tender lymph nodes, fluid around the lungs, clubbing of the fingers or toes and unusual breathing sounds.

The NIH notes that some common drugs to treat TB include Isoniazid, Rifampin, Pyrazinamide and Ethambutol. Sometimes people have to take various pills at different times of the day for up to six months. If the drug regimen is not taken correctly, it can exacerbate the TB.
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