Compounds in Desert Creosote Bush Could Be Used to Treat Giardia and “Brain-Eating” Amoeba Infections

Researchers at Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at University of California San Diego and the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus have found that compounds produced by the creosote bush, a desert plant common to the southwestern United States, exhibit potent anti-parasitic activity against the protozoa responsible for giardia infections and an amoeba that causes an often-lethal form of encephalitis. The findings, published online on August 9, 2017 in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, offer a starting point for widening the arsenal of antimicrobial agents, effective against deadly parasitic infections, scientists said. The open-access article is titled “Larrea tridentata: A novel source for anti-parasitic agents active against Entamoeba histolytica, Giardia lamblia and Naegleria fowleri.” The World Health Organization estimates that giardiasis, a diarrheal illness, is linked to approximately 846,000 deaths around the world each year. Infection usually occurs through ingestion of contaminated water or food. Though rarely lethal in the U.S., it's estimated there are more than 1 million cases of giardiasis in the country annually. Standard treatment usually involves antibiotics and anti-parasitic drugs. "The significance and intrigue of our study is that it shows the value of prospecting for new medicines from plants traditionally used by indigenous people as medicine," said co-principal investigator Anjan Debnath, PhD, an Assistant Adjunct Professor at Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at UC San Diego.
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