February 17, 2011

New Hot Treatment for Parasitic Skin Infections

(Ivanhoe Newswire) "“ There's news crawling around the science world- parasitic skin infections can be treated with heat therapy and this therapy could become the first-line treatment for these infections. Parasitic skin infections are commonly seen in tropical and subtropical regions, and currently the first-line treatment is a complex drug regimen.

Researchers successfully treated the skin infection in two patients whose immune systems were deficient, which lowered their bodies' ability to respond to medication, with heat therapy. Both patients have remained free of parasitic disease, called cutaneous leishmaniasis, for more than a year after receiving the heat treatment.
That long-term effectiveness, especially in people with compromised immune systems, makes this one-time application of heat to skin lesions an appealing alternative to the conventional treatment for the infection -- a series of about 20 consecutive daily drug injections.

"The fact that this treatment worked in immune-compromised people over the long term means it should work in healthy people, and could become the first-line treatment," Abhay Satoskar, professor of pathology at Ohio State University and senior author of the Lancet case report, was quoted as saying.

"If this same level of efficacy can be proved in the long term, it could revolutionize the management of cutaneous leishmaniasis in the world," Satoskar said.

This heat therapy worked on the form of the infection that attacks the skin, which is characterized by sores of various sizes that may or may not be painful. An estimated 1.5 million new cases of cutaneous leishmaniasis are diagnosed each year worldwide, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The therapy works by delivering radio frequencies that excite tissue molecules, producing heat that penetrates the top layer of skin and destroys diseased tissue underneath, Satoskar said.

The equipment used for heat therapy currently costs approximately $14,000, and is portable so it could be used in rural environments. "That way, you don't need patients to come to a clinic, making this much easier to use in the field," Satoskar said.
He predicted that if the treatment were widely adopted, the cost of the equipment would drop.

SOURCE: The Lancet, published online February 16, 2011