A common arthritis drug may prove an effective weapon against parasitic organisms responsible for dysentery, research suggests.
Auranofin, marketed as Ridaura, contains a medical form of gold and combats rheumatoid arthritis by reducing inflammation.
The new studies show that it could also be used to treat amoebic dysentery, and possibly Giardia.
Both infections cause dysentery symptoms which include stomach cramps and severe diarrhoea.
The amoebic dysentery organism Entamoeba histolytica, which also causes liver abscesses, is responsible for more than 70,000 deaths worldwide each year, mostly in developing countries.
Scientists in the US discovered that auranofin targets a protective enzyme the amoeba needs for its survival.
In infected mice and hamsters, the drug greatly decreased the number of parasites, damage from inflammation, and the size of liver abscesses.
Laboratory tests indicated that auranofin was 10 times more potent than the current standard treatment for dysentery, the antibiotic metronidazole.
This suggests it could be used at a low dose and on a one-time or limited basis.
"This new use of an old drug represents a promising therapy for a major health threat," said lead researcher Professor Sharon Reed, from the University of California at San Diego.
Her team has applied for permission to start clinical trials, using auranofin to treat patients both with amoebic dysentery and Giardia.
The findings are published in the latest issue of the journal Nature Medicine.
The fact that auranofin is already proven to be safe will cut the time and cost needed to develop it as a dysentery treatment.
Co-author Professor James McKerrow, from the University of California at San Francisco Sadler Centre for Drug Discovery, said: "When we're looking for new treatments for the developing world, we start with drugs that have already been approved.
"If we can find an approved drug that happens to kill these organisms, we've leapfrogged the development process that goes into assessing whether they are safe, which also makes them affordable throughout the world."
Colleague Dr Anjan Debnath, also from the University of California at San Francisco, said: "This is a drug that you can find in every country.
"Based on the dosage we're seeing in the lab, this treatment could be sold at about 2.50 dollars (£1.58) per dose, or lower. That cost saving could make a big difference to the people who need it the most."
In 2009, a decision was taken by auranofin's manufacturer to stop marketing the drug in the UK due to falling sales.
A twice-daily skin cancer drug almost doubles the survival times of advanced cancer patients, American scientists have discovered. Researchers from the Jonsson Cancer Center at the <a href="http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/" target="_hplink">University of California</a>, found that advanced melanoma cancer sufferers lived on average of 16 months after receiving the vemurafenib drug. Read the full story here. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/02/23/skin-cancer-drug-zelboraf-doubles-survival-times_n_1295896.html?ref=uk-lifestyle" target="_hplink"><strong>Read the full story here</strong></a>
Scientists have discovered five new genes that cause heart attacks and strokes and hope these findings will enable them to pinpoint when the attacks will strike. The researchers, from <a href="http://www.qmul.ac.uk/" target="_hplink">Queen Mary University</a> of London, identified five generic variants that trigger heart attacks and strokes after investigating blood pressure measurements of 25,000 participants. The aim of the study was to look into the role that genes play in hypertension and high blood pressure. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/11/18/test-predicts-heart-attack-and-stroke_n_1101174.html" target="_hplink">Read the full story here</a></strong>.
American scientists have discovered a potential new drug that could help fight against Alzheimer's disease. Neuroscientists from the <a href="http://casemed.case.edu/" target="_hplink">Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine</a> discovered that a skin cancer drug called bexarotene appears to reverse cognitive and memory deficits associated with Alzheimer's when tested on lab mice. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/02/09/bexarotene-cancer-drug-prevents-alzheimers_n_1265726.html" target="_hplink"><strong>Read the full story here</strong></a>.
A "personalised" pill for advanced skin cancer that can extend life has been approved for use in the UK. The drug, vemurafenib, only works for patients with a specific variant of the BRAF gene. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/03/14/personalised-skin-cancer-drug-created_n_1344010.html " target="_hplink"><strong>Read the full story here</strong></a>.
The genetic code of the most common form of hereditary breast cancer has been mapped for the first time, offering hope for diagnosis and treatment of the disease in the future. Researchers say they have "fully sequenced" the DNA of two breast cancers caused by a faulty BRCA1 gene, which is responsible for aggressive and highly drug-resistant tumours. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/02/24/genetic-breakthrough-breast-cancer-hope_n_1299330.html" target="_hplink"><strong>Read the full story here</strong></a>.
Scientists from the <a href="http://www.northwestern.edu/" target="_hplink">Northwestern University</a> in Chicago have come one step closer to developing a potential cure for peanut allergies, by creating an immune system tolerant to peanuts. The researchers found that they can switch off potentially deadly peanut allergy attacks by tricking the immune system into tolerating nut proteins, and not seeing them as a threat to the body. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/10/11/peanut-allergies-has-a-cure-been-found_n_1004615.html" target="_hplink">Read the full story here</a></strong>.
A breakthrough lung cancer detection test is set to be trialled on smokers for the first time in Scotland. If successful, cancers could be identified five years earlier than by current detection methods. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/03/23/breakthrough-lung-cancer-detection-test-trialled_n_1374925.html " target="_hplink"><strong>Read the full story here</strong></a>.
Sleepless nights could soon be a thing of the past as scientists discover a key chemical trigger that suppresses sleep and wakes people up. Researchers from <a href="http://www.bu.edu/" target="_hplink">Boston University </a>found that when the body has too little of the calcium kinase enzyme, it causes the brain to nod off to sleep. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/11/23/insomnia-cure-a-step-closer-after-enzyme-discovery_n_1109969.html" target="_hplink">Read the full story here</a></strong>.
A new treatment for breast cancer has been discovered after scientists found that breast tumours can be killed in minutes - by boiling them. The latest treatment, known as Preferential Radio-Frequency Ablation, uses a targeted electrical current that heats, or 'boils' the tumour to 70 to 90c (160 to 190f). <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/11/22/boiling-breast-cancer-tumours-kills-them-in-minutes_n_1107632.html" target="_hplink">Read the full story here</a></strong>.
British scientists have developed a revolutionary breast-screening system that uses anti-landmine technology to detect cancer in seconds. The radio-wave scanner is safer, cheaper and less painful than traditional mammogram X-rays, and unlike the current system, can be used on women of all ages. <a href="New Scan Detects Breast Cancer In Seconds Using Anti-Landmine Technology " target="_hplink"><strong>Read the full story here</strong></a>.
Breakthrough research involving a brain transplant of stem cells could offer hope for the treatment of both autism and Parkinson's disease. The study, from <a href="http://www.harvard.edu/" target="_hplink">Harvard University</a>, has already proven successful with mice. Scientists transferred healthy stem cells from mouse embryos into the brains of adult mice who were unable to use leptin, a hormone that tells the body when to stop eating. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/11/25/stem-cell-hope-autism-parkinsons_n_1112738.html" target="_hplink">Read the full story here</a></strong>.
A stomach implant that can trick the brain into thinking the stomach is full is the latest hi-tech gadget that experts hope will help fight the flab and beat obesity. The <a href="http://www.abiliti.com/" target="_hplink">Abiliti</a>, or 'Gastric Pacemaker', is a credit card-sized implant, inserted using keyhole surgery, which detects when food has been eaten and sends signals to the brain to create the feeling of fullness. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/11/08/gastric-pacemaker-beat-obesity_n_1082081.html" target="_hplink">Read the full story here</a></strong>.
Scientists from the <a href="http://www3.imperial.ac.uk/" target="_hplink">Imperial College</a> London have discovered a 'fertility switch' that could help treat infertility and miscarriage in the future. The study, published in the <a href="http://www.nature.com/nm/index.html" target="_hplink">Nature Medicine</a> journal, discovered an enzyme in the body that determines infertility and the chances of miscarriage, as it acts like a 'switch'. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/10/17/new-hope-for-women-struggling-to-conceive_n_1015554.html" target="_hplink">Read the full story here</a></strong>.
Eviplera, a new once-daily pill for the treatment of HIV has been made available in 27 countries of the European Union following approval by the <a href="http://www.ema.europa.eu/ema/index.jsp?curl=/pages/home/Home_Page.jsp&jsenabled=true" target="_hplink">European Medicines Agency</a>. The new drug, from <a href="http://www.gilead.com/" target="_hplink">Gilead Sciences</a>, combines three antiretroviral treatments in a single tablet so HIV patients only need to take one tablet a day to treat their condition. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/12/01/world-aids-day-2011-new-once-daily-pill-available-in-uk_n_1122590.html" target="_hplink">Read the full story here</a></strong>.
Scientists believe that a potent Alzheimer's vaccine jab could be the secret to preventing the disease developing from its early stages. Researchers from<a href="http://gumc.georgetown.edu/" target="_hplink"> Georgetown University Medical Center</a> in Washington found that an antibody for Alzheimer's disease is more likely to trigger inflammation in the brain the later it is given and that it could potentially be prevented, as long as the vaccine is taken during the very early stages of the disease. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/11/16/potent-alzheimers-vaccine-could-prevent-disease_n_1096670.html" target="_hplink">Read the full story here</a></strong>.