According to Science magazine, an old medication used to treat urinary tract infections may also treat a “brain-eating,” deadly amoeba!
A recent case report published in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, depicts a 54 year old man with the amoeba Balamuthia mandrillaris invading his brain and is meant to prove the drug’s life saving potential.
According to the CDC, the single-celled organism can enter the body through wounds and cuts as well as through the lungs when breathed in.
It is found in dust, dirt, and even in water.
The amoeba can then enter the bloodstream and reach the brain, causing the rare but fatal sickness known as “granulomatous amebic encephalitis.”
The CDC notes that “The disease may appear mild at first but can become more and more severe over weeks to several months.”
The patient initially sought medical care for an inexplicable seizure. His left side of the brain had a mass that was encircled by swelling, according to an MRI.
The patient was then transported to the UCSF Medical Center, where specialists took samples of his brain tissue and the fluid encasing his brain and spinal cord.
As it turns out, his brain contained B. mandrillaris, according to this analysis.
Not before consulting the CDC, the doctors went ahead and prescribed him an aggressive cocktail of antibacterial and antifungal medication.
Infectious disease physician-scientist Dr. Natasha Spottiswoode, shared via Science that “It’s what is recommended because it was what happened to be used in the patients who survived.”
Sadly, however, the patient wasn’t yet amoeba-free, and the medication even resulted in serious adverse reactions including renal failure.
While seeking a different approach, Spottiswoode found a 2018 study by UCSF researchers in which they showed proof an antibiotic called nitroxoline might be able to kill B. mandrillaris in lab conditions.
The medical team applied for authorization to use the medication as it is allowed in Europe but not the US.
Fortunately, the FDA did allow them to give the patient nitroxoline, and within a week, the doctors saw a significant improvement in his condition.
Soon after, he was discharged from the hospital and continued to take nitroxoline and other drugs while at home.
His doctors eventually want to have him stop taking the meds.
Doctors from UCSF are now also monitoring the case of another B. mandrillaris-infected patient who has started taking nitroxoline.
According to Science, this second patient has been improving as well.