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January 21, 2007



Dr Petty, in thinking about your comments I thought it would be easy enough to administer the antidote for T.gondii to individuals who test positive and demonstrate psychotic behavior to see if they improve. It seems such a low tech, simple thing to do with potentially great benefit. But alas I found it is not that simple, see below:
Dear Stuart –
A fine idea, but it is complicated by the fact that there is no antidote that eradicates Toxo infection. All known drug treatments only zap the acute form (tachyzoite), not the latent encysted form (bradyzoite). The latter stage is the one linked to the putative neurological effects. Incidentally, this is also why Toxo is such a big problem in AIDS patients…our drugs can control the acute toxoplasmosis, but the parasite will convert into a cyst impervious to the drugs. Drugs must be withdrawn within 2-3 weeks due to toxic side effects, and the acute toxoplasmosis comes right back. Many labs are busy investigating this conversion of the parasite from tachyzoite to bradyzoite in hopes of subverting this clinically relevant process.

I hope this was informative. Thanks for writing…Bill

Bill Sullivan, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Pharmacology & Toxicology
Center For AIDS Research
Indiana University School of Medicine

Richard Petty

Dear Stuart,

Thank you so much for your note.

Sad to say Dr. Sullivan is totally correct. If only it were a matter of dishing out some pyrimethamine or Dapsone to humans we would all have jumped on it. It is difficult to imagine the suffering of some people with chronic mental illness and we would do almost anything ethical to help them.

But I remain optimistic. If the toxoplasmosis story really holds up, it raises all kinds of possibilities. Medicines are in development at this moment that may actually be able to hit the bradyzoites themselves. Most have been too toxic to use, but there are some like 2-hydroxy-3- (1'-propen-3-phenyl)-1,4-naphthoquinone (PHNQ6), sulfadiazine and sulphamethoxazole have been shown to help and there’s a new approach using DNA vaccination with bradyzoite antigens. I am a great believer in human ingenuity!

Kind regards,



"Vaccination as a control strategy against the coccidial parasites Eimeria, Toxo and Neospora" Maybe we are getting closer than you think!

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