Breast cancer drug tamoxifen may be effective against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), one of the bugs responsible for antibiotic resistance.
Antibiotic resistance is a growing concern in the past few years as the clinicians are over using these meds in their patients. Last year, the World Health Organization warned that we are heading toward a “post-antibiotic era” unless more is done to tackle the issue.
Antibiotic resistance is natural phenomenon that occurs when an antibiotic has lost its ability to effectively kill bacterial growth and the microorganisms continue to multiply despite of therapeutic level of an antibiotic in the bloodstream.
Researchers from University of California-San Diego set out to determine whether tamoxifen may be effective against MRSA by influencing the behavior of neutrophils. The panel of experts treated human white blood cells with the breast cancer medication. Later, they compared with untreated neutrophils.
The scientists discovered that the tamoxifen-treated cells were better at targeting and engulfing bacteria. Moreover, the drug treated white blood cells created three times more enzymes and proteins that neutrophils send to trap and kill these pathogens.
“We discovered that tamoxifen has pharmacological properties that could aid the immune system in cases where a patient is immunocompromised or where traditional antibiotics have otherwise failed,” said senior study author Dr. Victor Nizet, professor of pediatrics and pharmacy.
MRSA is one of the most common causes of health care-associated infections, responsible for a number of severe illnesses, including pneumonia, impetigo, folliculitis and cellulitis. The superbug is a growing threat to public health due to its resistance, making it hard to treat significantly more life-threatening bacterium.
Tamoxifen, an antagonist of the estrogen receptor in breast tissue, is the usual therapy to treat hormone receptor-positive (HR+) breast cancer in pre- and post-menopausal women. IMAGE/Getty Images