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New antifungal composition effectively inhibits wide variety of fungi

Nov. 6, 2013 — In order to overcome resistance to antifungal variety of pathogenic fungi and yeast, researchers from the University of Alicante have developed a novel and efficient antifungal composition with pharmacological applications in agriculture and food industry, among others.

The composition, developed and patented by the UA Research Group in Plant Pathology, is based on the combined use of chitosan, or chitosan oligosaccharides (COS), antifungal agents and additives that synergistically affect the growth of a variety of pathogenic fungi.

"Chitosan is a non-toxic biopolymer, biocompatible and naturally degradable, with antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties obtained from chitin, the main constituent of hard body parts of invertebrates, such as the shells of shrimp, lobsters, crabs, and other marine crustaceans, and is part of the fungal cell wall," as explained by lecturer Luis Vicente López Llorca, Director of the UA Research Group in Plant Pathology and head of the research work.

"Because many fungal pathogens develop resistance to prolonged treatment with antifungal drugs, it is desirable to find alternatives for their control in medical, agricultural and those applications in which the fungi cause damage. In clinics, pathogenic fungi resistant to antifungal drugs are a major cause of mortality in patients. Chitosan and the antifungal additives, some based on the identification of molecular targets of chitosan, contribute to produce a novel alternative to control fungal diseases and in particular antifungal resistant strains" López Llorca said.

The various experiments carried out by the research group are proof of the significant synergistic effect of the combination of chitosan (or COS) and other antifungals and ARL1 gene inhibitor, in inhibiting the growth of mold and yeast . "Chitosan is nontoxic to mammals, making it suitable for use as an antifungal in various applications," Luís Vicente López adds.

"The chitosan or COS and a joint inhibition of some of its gene targets block the cell cycle and transcription in yeast, leading to oxidative stress, cell death and growth inhibition" López Llorca indicates. In this regard, the combination may have potential in the treatment of tumors.

This novel composition can be used as a medicine for clinical or veterinary use for the treatment and/or prevention of fungal infections by pathogenic yeasts and filamentous fungi, such as Candida spp. Cryptococcus spp. , Fusarium spp. and probably also in the control of tumor cells. In agriculture, pesticide treatments, preferably in the control of diseases caused by pathogenic fungi as Botrytis cinerea and Fusarium oxysporum . In the food industry, for example, for coating foods to prevent microbial contamination, and in the textile industry, as a detergent for cleaning surfaces.

The research group has led numerous laboratory tests that have successfully proven the effectiveness of this novel composition of fungal growth inhibition of numerous species of pathogenic yeasts and filamentous fungi.

The industrial scale is simple and economically viable compared to the benefits of this invention in the various fields of application.

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