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Antidepressant being considered for meningitis cure

By Tim Sandle     May 9, 2013 in Science
A long-established antidepressant, called sertraline, is being trialled in Uganda as a fungal brain disease treatment drug.
The antidepressant, manufactured by Pfizer and which goes under the trade names Lustral and Zoloft, was launched in the early 1990s. It is an established medication for treating depression.
In addition to its antidepressant properties, sertraline also appears to be effective at tackling infections. This finding has come from a study carried out by the University of Utah, according to Pharmaceutical International.
Based on these initial trials, Uganda's Infectious Disease Institute is investigating whether the drug can help to treat cryptococcal meningitis patients. This disease kills more than 600,000 people in Sub-Saharan Africa every single year.
If the trials are successful, it is hoped that sertraline will prove to be a more effective and cheaper alternative to current medications. The drug is no longer ‘on patent’, which means that lower cost generic alternatives can be manufactured.
The trials will funded by Canada, through the Grand Challenges Canada project. Grand Challenges Canada also involves over 100 other health-based investment programs implemented (or being implemented) in a total of 13 undeveloped nations.
A ‘rand challenge’ is defined by the organization as: “A grand challenge is a specific critical barrier that, if removed, would help solve an important health problem in the developing world, with a high likelihood of global impact through widespread implementation.”
Grand Challenges Canada was launched on May 3, 2010, by the Honorable James Flaherty, Minister of Finance for Canada.
More about Antidepressants, Meningitis, Fungi, Uganda
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