Detrimental fungi tricked into dying

In contrast to the commonly witnessed viral and bacterial infections, fungal diseases are rarer and more challenging to treat. Not only are there very limited number of anti-fungal/anti-mycotic drugs in the market but also the problem of anti-mycotic drug resistance makes the task of combating pathogenic fungi an uphill one.

Scientists at A.N. Belozersky Institute of Physico-Chemical Biology, the Lomonosov Moscow State University, aimed at solving this problem by attempting to stifle resistance of fungi to anti-fungal drugs. Published in the journal FEMS Yeast Research, their study could result in many more breakthroughs in the field of Mycotic Pharmacology.

Most anti-fungal drugs act by targeting  ergosterol synthesis which engenders into the cell membrane losing its structural integrity. This causes the pathogenic organism to lose control over its vital functions and die. However, resistant strains tide over these situations by developing mutations. These genetic changes allow it to either survive the toxic effect of either just one anti-mycotic  drug or multiple drugs through a phenomenon called Multi drug Resistance.

This research was conducted on the commonly used Baker’s Yeast. The cells of this organism were exposed to a toxic compound like Clotrimazole in conjuction with a fluorescent tracking dye called alkyl rhodamine. This dye being hydrophobic in nature is absorbed well by the yeast’s cell membrane as well as is expelled out by membrane enzymes called ABC transporters, whose main function is to protect the cell from foreign agents.However, it’s water repelling nature is likely to cause frequent recaptures because of which the cell is too busy eliminating the tracking dye to bother about the anti-fungal drug.


Baker’s Yeast photographed using a Fluorescence Microscope (Photo Credit- Dmitry Knorre)

Among all the alkyl rhodamines that were implemented for this experiment, octyl rhodamine proved to be the most efficient contender for the enhancement for anti-fungal action.

“In future, it will probably be possible to find a similar colorless compound for pharmacological purposes “, says Dr. Dmitry Knorre, a senior researcher at the Department of Molecular Energy of microorganisms, A.N. Belozersky Institute of Physico-Chemical Biology ,” another alkylated penetrating cation.”

This newly discovered mechanism of distracting the fungal organism from its target drug can be exploited further for improving our current stock and designing new fungal treatments.

To read the original article, click here.

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