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Old Drug Holds Promise Against Opportunistic Lung Bug

Posted Aug 19 2010 6:42pm

A drug to treat inflammation plays a surprising role reducing the level of infection caused by an opportunistic bug that is deadly for AIDS and cancer patients and others with weakened immune systems.

The drug, sulfasalazine, spurs the body to get rid of the fungal evaders by enhancing the body’s ability to chew them up instead of leaving the debris to litter the lungs, where it would continue to provoke an onslaught of harmful inflammation.

Besides opening a new avenue for research on Pneumocystis pneumonia or PCP, caused by the fungus Pneumocystis jirovecii, the work with mice also offers the possibility of manipulating immune cells called macrophages to improve treatment of infections.

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