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article imageCombination therapy tackles tick-borne illnesses

By Tim Sandle     Jun 8, 2016 in Health
Washington - A new cure for an emerging tick-carried illness called babesiosis has been developed by medical researchers. The disease, it seems from the research, can be tackled by the use of combination drugs.
The disease babesiosis is transmitted by the same ticks that cause Lyme disease. Although cases are at a relatively low level, there is concern, such as from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the pathogen could become more widespread. This is found in the Northeastern and Midwestern U.S., although there are risks of geographical expansion as well as an increase in cases within the problem areas already identified.
In relation to this, one Twitter user, Donna Lugar, tweeted: "As tick season arrives, add babesiosis to Lyme disease concerns."
Babesiosis is a malaria-like parasitic disease caused by infection with Babesia, a single-celled parasitic organism of the genus of Apicomplexa. The primary risk strain for humans is B. microti. In people, the disease, passed on through tick bites, produces malaria-like symptoms in some people (in others, the disease is asymptomatic.) In cases of severe infection the disease can be life threatening.
To address infection, a new combination therapy appears to cure the infection. The treatment also appears to prevent recurrence of the disease. The development of the new treatment was not only necessary to improve treatment; there are also recorded cases of the parasite developing resistance to existing drug treatments.
The new success is based on studies conducted in mice. The study, undertaken at the Yale University, tested mice with weakened immune systems. Four drugs, in duo combinations, were used. The drugs had previously shown success against human babesiosis. Of these, only one drug, called atovaquone, was effective.
However, when running the mouse model again with a fifth drug called ELQ (formulation 334) it was found that when this medication was used in combination with atovaquone a much greater level of effectiveness was shown. Although the two drugs work in a similar way, they target different enzyme sites.
Not only was the atovaquone-ELQ 334 combination effective it prevented reoccurrence of the disease for 122 days following treatment. The next phase is to test out the drug combination on people through clinical trials.
The new combination study was led by Professor Choukri Ben Mamoun and it has been outlined in The Journal of Experimental Medicine. The paper is titled “Radical cure of experimental babesiosis in immunodeficient mice using a combination of an endochin-like quinolone and atovaquone.”
The journal itself has tweeted about the research, stating: "New in @JExpMed - Radical cure of experimental babesiosis in immunodeficient mice..."
More about tick illness, Lyme disease, babesiosis, Parasites
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