Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Old drug learns a new trick

Crystallised Amphotericin B - from Molecular Expressions (click image)
Amphotericin B is one of the oldest antifungal drugs in common use (discovered in 1955)to treat serious fungal infections. It actually kills the fungus (fungicidal) rather than just stop it growing (fungistatic) so remains an important weapon in the fight against Aspergillus to this day.
Conventional formulations of the drug are not absorbed well through the gut and are not easy to dissolve in water, so the drug is delivered via injection into the bloodstream (IV) and must be dissolved using substances that are relatively toxic. This combination inevitably means that its use in this way must be carefully monitored. Patients can suffer severe side effects if not watched closely.

Attempts to reduce toxicity have resulted in several drugs being developed including Amphocil and Abelcet, both of which use less toxic ways to dissolve the drug prior to IV injection - again, lengthy hospital stays are needed.

A recent new paper, featured here features a new way to package up this drug which makes it possible to offer as a pill for oral use. In animal studies it also appears to be less toxic. If clinical trials (in humans) are as positive this could offer a whole new way to offer this important drug to patients, and enable them to take it in their own homes saving time, expense and hopefully improving outcomes for everyone.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I just would like to highlight how my treatment impacted on me and how some areas of aftercare at home could go along way to aid recovery that time.

I had this treatment over 10 yrs ago. At the time of being considered for this treatment I'd been ill for some time. Therefore, I was weak. The treatment was given over about 10 weeks. At the time I just thought I was 'ill as normal' but eventually I began to get stronger but it took 18 months before I noticed a change and some recovery. i felt weller than I had for a very long time.

At the time I struggled daily to make tea or lunch or even get upstairs to turn the heating on over winter etc., What I am trying to say is that the treatment was having a huge effect on my health status. I remembered thinking if I was a cancer patient I'd have support from services. In reality I was weak and often ill and couldn't look after myself during the day. This in itself took alot out of me and maybe contributed to a slow recovery... Maybe not!! Yet care providers seemed non-existant to a young housewife at that time. Thank you

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