Breast cancer treatment may combat MRSA infections, study finds

Tamoxifen — a drug used to both prevent and treat breast cancer — may also have potential to boost the body's defense system against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infections, according to a study published in the journal Nature Communications.

The study was conducted by researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

The research team injected mice with a lethal dose of MRSA and found that those who had been treated with tamoxifen were five times less likely to have MRSA present in their fluids than the control mice that did not receive the drug. Additionally, 35 percent of the tamoxifen-treated mice survived for five days after being infected with MRSA, while none of the control mice survived more than one day.

Although the effects of the breast cancer drug were promising in this MRSA study, the researchers noted the outcome may vary with other pathogens. The drug also causes the body to produce higher-than-average levels of neutrophil extracellular traps, which can be harmful to other cell types if no infection is present.

"While known for its efficacy against breast cancer cells, many other cell types are also exposed to tamoxifen," said Victor Nizet, MD, professor of pediatrics and pharmacy. "The 'off-target effects' we identified in this study could have critical clinical implications given the large number of patients who take tamoxifen, often every day for years."

 

 

More articles on MRSA:
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