Study finds anti-inflammatory drug may help fight fungal infection of the lungs

ROCHESTER,, N.Y. An anti-inflammatory drug approved 60 years ago may help fight against a fungal infection of the lungs that is deadly to patients with compromised immune systems.

Patients with weakened immune systems, particularly those with AIDS and cancer, are at risk of developing Pneumocystis pneumonia, or PCP, a form of pneumonia caused by the fungus Pneumocystis jirovecii, and dying from it.

But according to a study published Thursday in the journal PLoS Pathogens, the drug sulfasalazine may help fight the fungus by enhancing the body’s ability to “chew” it up rather than leaving the debris in the lungs, which can lead to further inflammation. Pharmacia and Upjohn, now part of Pfizer, originally marketed the drug under the brand name Azulfidine; the Food and Drug Administration approved it in 1950.

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