October 19, 2019

Tamoxifen May Fight Lethality of Shiga Toxin-Producing E. coli Bacteria

According to new research from the University of Texas at Austin’s College of Pharmacy, the drug tamoxifen may help fight the lethality of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) bacteria. That drug is already approved by the FDA for treatment of diseases such as breast cancer.

Tamoxifen May Fight Lethality of Shiga Toxin-Producing E. coli Bacteria

Researchers think that tamoxifen may block the ability of the toxins to invade human cells. The researchers have published a paper called “Tamoxifen blocks retrograde trafficking of Shiga toxin 1 and 2 and protects against lethal toxicosis” in Life Science Alliance.

Certain types of E. coli bacteria produce Shiga toxins, which enter red blood cells and destroy them. The cells then travel throughout the bloodstream until they get to the kidneys. There, they clog tiny tubes called glomeruli, which destroys kidney function.

Scientist Somshuvra Mukhopadhyay, an assistant professor of pharmacology and toxicology, led the research that focused on understanding how the toxins enter cells. Studies show that tamoxifen protects mice against Shiga toxicosis. And because tamoxifen is already approved for use in humans, this therapy may become available for use much sooner than a new compound.

The most potent Shiga toxins are STx1 and STx2. Tamoxifen protects cells against STx1 and STx2 toxicity by acting as a weak base. That increases the pH of cells, which blocks transport to Golgi bodies in the cell.

Kristin Falkenstein, a licensing specialist in UT Austin’s Office of Technology Commercialization said in a statement, We hope to license Dr. Mukhopadhyay’s discovery and make it available to the public. In the past year alone, the United States has experienced three major outbreaks of food-borne Shiga toxin-producing E. coli spanning 40 states. It offers a promising therapeutic solution using an FDA-approved drug in the face of an increasingly prevalent epidemic.”

About 265,000 people in the United Stats are sickened by STEC infections every year. This leads to 3,600 hospitalizations and 30 deaths. The population most affected by this type of infection and the subsequent complication hemolytic uremic syndrome, are children under the age of 5.

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