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Cholestyramine shows protective effects for marine toxin poisoning

Investigators at NOAA's National Ocean Service have observed that a commonly used cholesterol-lowering drug provides protective effects to a toxin produced by microscopic marine algae. Drs. J.S. Ramsdell, R. Woofter, J. Colman, S. Dover and M.Y. Dechraoui Bottein. National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration. Charleston, S.C., describe their research at an American Society for Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics session at the Experimental Biology 2003 meeting in San Diego.

Blooms of these toxic marine algae, commonly called harmful algal blooms (HABs) are one of the most scientifically complex and economically significant coastal issues facing the nation today. In the past, only a few regions of the U.S. were affected by HABs, but now virtually every coastal state has reported major blooms. Economic losses associated with HABs may exceed $1 billion over the next several decades. HABs have direct and indirect impacts on fisheries resources, local coastal economies, as well as public health and perception. HABs can cause human illness and death, alter marine habitats, adversely impact fish and other marine organisms, as well as close many coastal businesses.

HABs produce some of the most potent toxins known to man. These toxins are primarily neurotoxins, causing symptoms ranging from numbness and tingling sensations to memory impairment to respiratory paralysis. At present, coastal areas with persistent HAB problems are monitored for toxic algae in coordination with testing of seafood products. In the near future, forecasting of harmful algal blooms and new biomonitoring and therapeutic methods are anticipated to provide advanced warning capabilities, diagnostics and treatments. Cholestyramine, a commonly used cholesterol-lowering drug retained in the digestive tract, blocks re-absorption of cholesterol and related molecules. Cholestyramine is reported to provide protective effects following exposure of laboratory rats to fungal toxins a
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Contact: Sarah Goodwin
eb3press@bellsouth.net
770-270-0989
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
13-Apr-2003


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