Amebiasis pp 553-564 | Cite as

Drug Development: Old Drugs and New Lead



Amebiasis is a global disease caused by the protozoan parasite Entamoeba histolytica. It affects 50 million people, leading to 70,000 deaths each year, and about 500 million people are at risk. Current treatment requires both metronidazole and paromomycin, but metronidazole has several adverse effects and resistance is an increasing concern. Moreover, treatment with two drugs for 20 days makes compliance difficult. Although amebiasis affects millions people, it is a disease primarily of the poor, and therefore new drug development for this disease is not a priority for major pharmaceutical companies. Yet finding a better drug for such a significant cause of morbidity and mortality would have an impact on millions of people suffering from this diarrheal disease. To facilitate the identification of new drug leads for this anaerobic parasite, we developed and validated a novel automated, high-throughput screening methodology. Screening identified an FDA-approved drug, auranofin, used therapeutically for rheumatoid arthritis, as active against E. histolytica in culture. Auranofin was ten times more potent against E. histolytica than metronidazole. The discovery of auranofin offers a promising drug repositioning opportunity for the treatment of amebiasis.


Entamoeba Histolytica Orphan Drug Status Amebic Liver Abscess Amebic Dysentery Amebic Colitis 
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Copyright information

© Springer Japan 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical SciencesUniversity of California, San DiegoLa JollaUSA

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