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New grant will allow U of M researchers to advance new diagnosis & treatment methods for meningitis

Researchers from the University of Minnesota Medical School’s Division of Infectious Diseases and International Medicine have received a $3.2 million grant to examine new cost-effective approaches for diagnosing and treating meningitis. The University will partner with Uganda’s Makerere University on the effort.

In the first of two programs supported by the new grant, University of Minnesota researchers will employ a tiered approach to diagnosing meningitis, employing a strategic approach that eliminates a full battery of testing when a more limited panel of stepwise testing can confirm infection.  The project will also explore new diagnostic tests for meningitis due to tuberculosis (TB).

The grant will also support a new clinical trial to test the antifungal properties of sertraline (Zoloft), an antidepressant with possible anti-fungal properties in mouse models. Because Zoloft went off patent in 2006, the medication could present a cheaper alternative in the fight against cryptococcal meningitis.

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In the fight against cryptococcal meningitis, U of M researcher recommends a shorter, more cost-effective therapy regimen

The most cost-effective course of treatment for cryptococcal meningitis is different than current World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations according to University of Minnesota researchers, and as a result, current policies need to be reviewed.

David Boulware, M.D., M.P.H., Associate Director of Global Health Programs in Internal Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases & International Medicine, Department of Medicine, recommends a shorter, more cost-effective therapy regimen option for cryptococcal meningitis.

Cryptococcal meningitis is a serious fungal infection of the brain, usually occurring in people with immune system deficiencies such as organ transplantation or HIV/AIDS. Cryptococcal meningitis affects approximately 1 million people per year worldwide and is currently the most common cause of meningitis in Africa.

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