Tamoxifen may stem fungal infections

July 21, 2009 at 7:36 PM
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ROCHESTER, N.Y., July 21 (UPI) -- A drug used to prevent breast cancer shows promise as a killer of life-threatening fungal infections, U.S. researchers say.

Dr. Damian Krysan of the University of Rochester Medical Center and colleagues found tamoxifen kills yeast in mice with Candida infections. The researchers suggest the drug, used to help prevent breast cancer recurrence, may kill fungus cells and stop them from causing disease.

"It's still early, but if tamoxifen, or molecules like it, turns out to be an effective treatment against serious fungal infections, it'll be a welcome addition to our arsenal," Krysan said in a statement.

Fungal infections can be deadly in patients with low immunity, Krysan said, and fungus is the third most common cause of bloodstream infection in premature infants in the neonatal intensive care unit. The survival rate for children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia is about 95 percent, but if they acquire a Candida albicans fungal infection, that drops to 80 percent, the researchers said.

The research findings have been published in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.

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