Common Breast Cancer Drug Could Fight Dangerous Infections
Researchers have discovered that a common breast cancer drug may be effective in battling a powerful superbug, MRSA.
The potentially life-threatening MRSA staph infection is known to be resistant to most antibiotics, causing a 64 percent greater risk of death compared to non-resistant forms of the infection.
Tamoxifen, currently used in the treatment of hormone receptor-positive breast cancer, was found to boost the immune system and help fight MRSA staph infections in mice. Tamoxifen works by binding to hormone receptors and blocking the production of estrogen, cutting off a fuel source for some breast cancers. However, the drug also produces fatty molecule byproducts that help regulate white blood cells and fight off bacterial infections.
In the study, researchers from the University of California - San Diego first used human white blood cells and treated them with Tamoxifen. The treated cells were not only much better at targeting and consuming bacteria, but also created three times as many pathogen-killing DNA bundles. Other estrogen targeting drugs were not shown to have the same effect.
In a second mice study, the animals were either treated with a control drug or Tamoxifen one hour before and eight hours after being infected with MRSA. Up to 35 percent of the mice treated with Tamoxifen lived five days after infection, whereas those treated with a control lived less than a day.