Zoloft may help fight fungal meningitis, says new study

In an effort to discover new uses for FDA-approved drugs, a research team at Texas A&M has found that the popular SSRI antidepressant drug Zoloft may help inhibit the effects of deadly pathogens that cause fungal meningitis. The 2-year study involved the effect of sertraline hydrochloride (Zoloft) on Cryptococcus neoformans. The results of the study in the June issue of the American Society of Microbiology journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.

"The point here is that if there is a drug that already exists, is known to be well-tolerated, and has alternative uses, that’s a good thing," said biology professor Matthew S. Sachs, a co-author of the study. "The billion dollars it would take to bring a drug to the market, that’s already done."

C. neoformans is a fungal pathogen that causes a form of fungal meningitis called cryptococcal meningitis. C. neoformans is found in soils throughout that world. Microscopic cells become airborne and, when inhaled, may cause lung infections. In people with weakened immune systems, the fungus may spread throughout the body. Cryptococcal meningitis occurs when the brain and spinal cord become infected. In the absence of effective treatment, it can result in death. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), cryptococcal meningitis kills over 500,000 people worldwide each year.

In addition to being effective against C. neoformans, previous research at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore MD found that Zoloft moderately inhibited the effects of Aspergillus nidulans, a type of common mold, and Candida, a type of yeast commonly associated with mammals.

Zoloft (generic sertraline hydrochloride) is an antidepressant drug that was first approved by the FDA in 1991 to treat a variety of depression and anxiety-related emotional and mood disorders. It is member of a class of prescription drug known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants. By 2007, Zoloft has been the most prescribed antidepressant drug on the market with annual sales over $3 billion.

Zoloft Pregnancy Effects

Several studies of Zoloft pregnancy effects have linked use of the drug while pregnant to an increased risk of birth defects. In 2005, a FDA Safety Alert for Zoloft and other SSRI antidepressant medications was issued based on two studies that showed women who took Zoloft during the 1st trimester of pregnancy were 100%-150% more likely to have a baby with septal heart defects (ASD or VSD). In 2006, a FDA Zoloft Pubic Health Advisory was issued after a study was published linking the use of Zoloft while pregnant to an increased risk of Primary Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn (PPHN).

Zoloft Lawsuits

Lawsuits against drug maker Pfizer have been filed across the U.S. seeking financial compensation for personal injury and wrongful death damages caused by use of it’s SSRI antidepressant Zoloft during pregnancy.

If you took Zoloft during your pregnancy and your baby suffered a heart defect or other birth defect, you may have have a right to financial compensation. Learn more about Zoloft lawsuits and find out if you have a claim.

Get a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced SSRI birth defects lawyer.

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