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UVa. Researchers Find Cure for a Parasite that Causes Skin Ulcers

Feb. 20, 2014

Researchers at the University of Virginia say they have found a cure for a parasite that causes severe ulcers on the skin.

Scientists say a common arthritis drug, Auranofin, is toxic to the parasite that causes this disease. They've found it actually helps reduce patients' ulcers.

The parasite is transmitted through the bite of a sandfly, and is very common in the Middle East, Mediterranean and South America.

Many U.S. troops have contracted the disease, dubbing it the "Baghdad Boil."

"We're actually looking at other drugs that we might be able to re-purpose," says Elizabeth R. Sharlow with UVa. Department of Pharmacology. "We have approximately 35 other commonly-used drugs, that might be re-purposed for cutaneous leishmaniasis, as well as we are seeking funding from various government agencies to help support the research."

Researchers say until now, treatments for this parasite were extremely painful and sometimes fatal.

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