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October 13, 2015

Could a breast cancer drug wipe out MRSA in hospitals? Tamoxifen can help the body trap and kill bacteria

The breast cancer drug tamoxifen boosts the immune system, and was shown to be effective against Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, in lab experiments, according to researchers at the University of California San Diego.
The study's senior author, Professor Victor Nizet, said: 'The threat of multidrug - resistant bacterial pathogens is growing, yet the pipeline of new antibiotics is drying up.
'We need to open the medicine cabinet and take a closer look at the potential infection-fighting properties of other drugs that we already know are safe for patients.

For patients with estrogen-receptor positive breast cancer ( or ER+), tamoxifen blocks the receptors, helping make other treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation more effective. Researchers focused, however, on the drug's 'off-target effect' on the production of a type fatty molecule called ceramide that enhances the ability of white blood cells called neutrophils to engulf and defeat bacteria.
In the lab, researchers found that neutrophils treated with tamoxifen produced three times more neutrophil extracellular traps, or NETs, a group of proteins, enzymes and peptides neutrophils use to kill bacteria.
The researchers treated mice with tamoxifen to test its ability to boost the immune system. After exposing the rodents to MRSA, another dosage of tamoxifen was given and the mice were monitored for five days. Although none of the control mice live more than a day, about 35 percent of the mice treated with tamoxifen survived for five days. Five times fewer MRSA were found in peritoneal fluid taken from the mice's abdomens.
However, the researchers said that while tamoxifen was effective against MRSA in this study, the outcome may vary with other bacteria.
Several bacterial species have evolved methods for evading NET capture, they said.
Second, in the absence of infection, too many NETs could be harmful.
Some studies have linked excessive NET production to inflammatory disease, such as vasculitis and bronchial asthma, they added.
But lets not forget about  some of Tamoxifen   rather nasty side-effects. Preventing  MRSA from spreading in hospitals in a first place is where the fight again it should be focused on. 

Please check out  another great  posting on this blog  about MRSA here : Measles and 6 Other Nasty Diseases You Should Worry About Catching While Traveling

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