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Published on 22 July 2009

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Tamoxifen “kills fungal infections”

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A breast-cancer drug approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is showing promise in treating potentially deadly fungal infections.

Research at Rochester University, published in the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, shows that tamoxifen kills fungus cells in immune-compromised patients such as premature babies and cancer patients.

“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,” said author Dr Damian Krysan.

Although fungal infections generally only affect patients with cancer, they can be deadly for those with HIV or taking immune-suppression medications for chronic conditions.

Dr Krysan added: “We don’t have vaccines against fungal infections, and the few drugs we do have aren’t always effective.

“We’ve got a lot more work to do to figure out whether tamoxifen could be used in high doses or whether it could be used in combination with other treatments, but we’re excited about the possibility of giving doctors another way to help these critically ill patients.”

Copyright Press Association 2009

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