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New York Medical College Team of Tick-Experts May Have Revolutionized Treatment of Babesiosis

Clinical trials on Tafenoquine as a treatment of Babesiosis are expected within the next two years

June 06, 2019
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Revolutionized Treatment of Babesiosis

In their groundbreaking study, Could the Drug Tafenoquine Revolutionize Treatment of Babesia Microti Infection published in The Journal of Infectious Diseases, Dana G. Mordue, Ph.D., associate professor of microbiology and immunology, and Gary P. Wormser, M.D., professor of medicine, microbiology and immunology, and pharmacology, and vice chair of medicine for research and development, discovered that the drug Tafenoquine, which recently gained FDA approval to treat some species of Plasmodium, the parasite that causes malaria, may also be extremely successful for the treatment of Babesiosis.

Caused by parasites which are primarily transmitted by tick bite, the number of reported U.S. cases of Babesiosis continues to grow—yet the current treatment for Babesiosis is often ineffective for immuno-suppressed patients.  “Disease severity can range from asymptomatic to fatal and individuals who are asymptomatic can remain carriers of the parasite in their blood for more than a year.  As a result, transfusion transmitted Babesiosis has become a serious problem because blood donors can donate contaminated blood without knowing they are infected,” explains Dr. Mordue. “Developing potent drugs for Babesiosis that rapidly kill parasites, even in immune suppressed individuals, would be a tremendous advance for treatment,” she says.

According to Dr. Mordue we can expect to see clinical trials on Tafenoquine as a treatment of Babesiosis within the next two years. In the meantime, “Since Tafenoquine is a drug that is approved by the FDA, physicians can currently use the drug for Babesiosis off-label. This may be particularly important for immune suppressed individuals for which current treatments are not always effective.”