Generally speaking, a parasite is an organism that dwells in or on another host organism (animal or plant) and draws its sustenance from the host without benefitting or killing the host. A typical example is the gastrointestinal parasites; they are organisms that live inside the gastrointestinal tract of an individual.
According to a body of professional nurses, Honour Society of Nursing (STTI), “Parasitic infections are usually treated with drugs that kill the parasites and help eliminate them from the body. These drugs may be used alone or in combination with other medications. In some cases, surgery is also required to remove growths caused by the parasites.”
In a recent research however, scientists are looking at a very interesting outcome from the use of a medication that treats parasite infection. According to the study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists in Osaka, Japan, working in collaboration with other Japanese and U.S. researchers have reported a new gene target known as KPNB1, in treating epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC).
EOC is regarded as the fifth foremost cause of cancer that leads to deaths in many women; on diagnosis, doctors have not secured a good measure of success with the treatment so far. The researchers in addition discover that ivermectin brings to bear an anti-tumour effect on EOC cells by having interactions with the KPNB1 gene.
For the reason that ivermectin has already been approved for the treatment of parasitic infections in patients, it is expected that costs will drastically come down. This is in regard to experiments for its effectiveness in an anti-cancer treatment as compared to untested drug compounds.
Experts inform that parasitic infections start from the moment a person makes contact with a disease-causing parasite such as tapeworms, roundworms. These types of infections can be contracted via contact with contaminated food, soil or water, and usually in regions lying within the tropics. Symptoms of parasitic infections can include digestive problems, irritability, chronic fatigue, acne, rashes, sleep problems, anaemia, muscle cramps, allergies and headaches. In that vaccines are not available to this effect, medications or topical applications would usually be applied in treating parasitic infections.
Regarding the treatment of EOC, it actually “is a challenging disease to treat because of its heterogeneity. The mortality rate has stayed steady for decades. We need new drugs and also new drug targets,” stated Osaka University Gynaecologist Michiko Kodama, the first author of the study.
In looking for new drug target genes for EOC, Kodama carried out two in vivo screenings; one shRNA based and the other CRISPR/Cas9 based. Quite a lot were seen including ERBB2, but for the fact that there already exist drugs that target ERBB2 in clinical use, Kodama focused more on the gene with the second highest rank in the screening, which is KPNB1.
She thus established that KPNB1 has features that portray an oncogene – that is to say that its over-expression considerably accelerated EOC cell propagation and survival, while its inhibition made way for apoptosis.
Considering also that it is very probable that this gene acts on EOC, Kodama discovered that the prognosis for EOC patients reduced with a greater expression of KPNB1.
“This does not show KPNB1 is a cause of EOC, but it does show it could be a target,” she also stated.
Projections have been put forward that drug repositioning takes one third the time and cost for an experimental treatment in order for government to give the green light, unlike in the case with discovering a new drug. As a result, in discovering drug candidates that can restrain the oncogenetic properties of KPNB1, Kodama was on the look-out for only clinically-approved medicines; she ended up with ivermectin.
“Ivermectin inhibits importin /-mediated nuclear transport. KPNB1 is a member of the importin family,” Kodama stated. She said also, that this family imports proteins into the nucleus of the cell.
Kodama discovered that ivermectin had pro-apoptotic effects in EOC cells, but not if the KPNB1 activity was already unnaturally inhibited. What is more, ivermectin was discovered to possess a synergistic effect in combination with paclitaxel which is presently the drug preferred for the treatment of EOC.
For the reason that EOC cancer is heterogeneous, the best treatment approach will probably require a combination of drugs. By carrying out a wide range of screenings for mutants and clinically-approved medicines, she feels positive that drug repositioning will more quickly bring such course of therapy to patients.
“We do not understand the molecular mechanisms for the synergistic effect. Ivermectin and paclitaxel have been in clinical use for several decades, which should facilitate clinical trials,” Kodama stated.