Texas A & M Biologists Prove Zoloft Packs The Potential To Fight Fungal
Meningitis


COLLEGE STATION,*Texas, July 25, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --*

New research conducted by biologists at Texas A&M University suggests
that ZOLOFT®, one of the most widely prescribed antidepressants in the
world, also packs a potential preventative bonus — potent mechanisms
capable of inhibiting deadly fungal infections.

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20120502/DC99584LOGO)

The findings are the result of a two-year investigation by Xiaorong Lin,
assistant professor of biology, and Matthew S. Sachs, professor of
biology, involving sertraline hydrocholoride (ZOLOFT) and its effects on
Cryptococcus neoformans, the major causative agent of fungal meningitis
— specifically, cryptococcal meningitis, which claims more than half a
million lives worldwide each year, according to a 2009 Center for
Disease Control (CDC) report.

Their research, funded with grants from the American Heart Association
(AHA), the Norman Hackerman Advanced Research Program, and the National
Institutes of Health (NIH), is published in the June issue of the
American Society of Microbiology journal Antimicrobial Agents and
Chemotherapy. Their research team includes Ph.D. candidate Bing Zhai and
postdoctoral fellows Cheng Wu and Linqi Wang.

"The point here is that if there is a drug that already exists, is known
to be well-tolerated, and has alternative uses, that's a good thing,"
Sachs says. "The billion dollars it would take to bring a drug to the
market — that's already done."

C. neoformans is a potentially dangerous fungal pathogen found in many
soils throughout the world that may cause systemic infections,
particularly involving the central nervous system. In most cases, the
microscopic, airborne fungal cells of C. neoformans cause asymptomatic
colonization in the lungs.

However, Lin says the fungus is particularly aggressive in people with
weakened immune systems and can spread to other parts of the body, such
as the brain and spinal cord, resulting in cryptococcal meningitis — a
condition that, in absence of treatment, is fatal.

Lin participated in a previous study to screen a collection of
FDA-approved drugs in a John Hopkins Clinical Compound Library to
determine if any contained fungicidal agents.

Although sertraline was shown to only moderately inhibit the effects of
common fungal strains like Aspergillus nidulans, a genus of common mold
often found on spoiled food , and Candida, a genus of yeast often
associated with mammals, sertraline was found to be particularly
effective against C. neoformans.

A follow-up investigation of sertraline in a mouse model of systemic
cryptococcosis revealed that it combats infection similar to
fluconazole, an antifungal drug used commonly since the early 1990s.
Moreover, a drug combination of sertraline and fluconazole was found to
work more efficiently than either drug alone.

Lin says that even though the infection ultimately proved fatal in the
mice study, sertraline as a cryptoccol treatment still holds promise.
Because sertraline reduced the overall fungal burden within the mice and
also possesses the desirable ability to cross the blood-brain barrier as
an antidepressant, there is still hope it can be altered to serve as a
viable treatment option.

"The problem for many current antifungal drugs is that many cannot go to
the brain, and it's very difficult for a lot of compounds to reach the
brain in the first place," Lin says. "So, you run into the problem of
not killing all the fungus or having a very low level of fungus still
exist. The fact is, this antidepressant can cross the blood-brain
barrier and can get into the tissue at high concentrations."

It remains unclear exactly what dosage and concentration of sertraline
is necessary to completely eliminate cryptococcosis, especially
cryptococcal meningitis, but Lin and Sachs hope those answers will come
to light with further testing.

"If this becomes useful, it could represent a truly significant increase
in our ability to help people with brain cryptococcal infections," Sachs
adds.

To read the Texas A&M team's paper, visit
http://aac.asm.org/content/56/7/3758.abstract?etoc.

For more information about Lin's and Sachs' respective research
programs, go to

http://www.bio.tamu.edu/FACMENU/FACULTY/LinX.htm or

http://www.bio.tamu.edu/FACMENU/FACULTY/SachsM.php.


SOURCE Texas A&M University

CONTACT: *Shana K. Hutchins, +1-979-862-1237,

[email protected]; or Dr. Xiaorong Lin, +1-979-845-7274,
[email protected]; or Dr. Matthew Sachs, +1-979-845-5930,
[email protected]

Posted: July 2012

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Donna G.
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1) Rejoice always, Pray continually, Give thanks in all circumstances,
For this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. ( I Thessalonians
5:16-18 NIV )

2) ANGELS EXIST, but some times, since they don't all have wings, we
call them FRIENDS......

3) Just because you're in pain, doesn't mean you have to be one!