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Novel plastic-derived antifungal shows promise in infections

Candida albicans close up

Candida albicans

Source: Sebastian Kaulitzki/

Candida albicans infections could be treated with the a new anti-fungal in the future

Researchers have developed a novel antifungal treatment from plastic, according to a new study published in Nature Communications (9 December 2013). So far the new agent has only demonstrated efficacy in a mouse model when applied topically to the eye, but in vitro it is has been shown to be effective against fluconazole-resistant strains of fungi.

“These small-molecule compounds hold great potential as antifungal agents for the prevention and treatment of fungus-induced infections,” said the researchers.

The molecules are made from polyethylene terephthalate plastic. They are positively charged and are able to self-assemble into larger nanostructures that are specifically attracted to the negatively charged fungal cell surface. Fungi membranes are disrupted and then split open by the positively charged nanostructures, killing the cell.

In a mouse model of fungal keratitis — a severe eye infection — the antifungal agent reduced the number of viable fungal colonies by a similar amount to amphotericin B (P=0.05). The nanostructures did not damage the mouse eye and were also shown to be compatible with mammalian cells in vitro. Furthermore, following repeat exposure of fungi to subtherapeutic doses there was no evidence of development of resistance against the particles. 

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 11131864

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