• Otávio Santiago

Why We Desperately Need to Develop New Antifungals

Updated: Sep 20, 2021

While serious fungal infections are rare, there is a limited number of approved drugs to treat them, and they may not always work due to the rise of antimicrobial resistance. Despite the challenges, researchers are starting to add new weapons to the arsenal to protect us against these microscopic invaders.

Developing effective antifungals is a big challenge for science. This is because fungi cells are more closely related to human cells than other microbes such as bacteria. Meaning that compounds toxic to fungi will likely also be toxic to humans.

Traditionally, there have only been three classes of antifungal drugs on the market. Treatment options are limited for patients with systemic fungal infections like invasive aspergillosis or candidiasis.

Over the last 20 years, there has been much publicity about antimicrobial resistance and the problems it can cause. However, most efforts have focused on antibacterial and antiviral resistance. While often overlooked, antifungal resistance is also a serious emerging problem.

Although localized fungal infections of the skin, nails, and genital areas are fairly common in humans, our immune system can generally prevent us from developing serious, systemic fungal infections. This means that most patients who become seriously infected with a fungus have another medical condition that compromises their immune system.

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