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Breast cancer drug to fight superbugs

Researchers have discovered that a breast cancer drug, tamoxifen strengthens white blood cells which may better equip them to fight antibiotic resistant bacteria.

The drug has pharmacological properties that helps the immune system and increases the clearance of the antibiotic-resistant bacterial pathogen MRSA (methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus) and reduces death rate.

The drug also targets the estrogen receptor, making it mainly effective against breast cancers that have the molecule in abundance. In addition, the drug also affects the way cells produce fatty molecules, known as sphingolipids.

Sphingolipids, and ceramide, specifically play a role in controlling the activities of white blood cells known as neutrophils.

To confirm the theory, researchers reared human neutrophils with the drug and matched it to untreated neutrophils. Findings showed that treated neutrophils were better at submerging bacteria and also ejected out to trap and kill pathogens.

Handling neutrophils with other molecules that mark the estrogen receptor had no effect, indicating that it enhances NET production in a way dissimilar to the estrogen receptor.