Currently we have a series of antifungal drugs that fall into three broad categories,
- those that target the cell wall (something that does not exist in mammals) that the fungus relies on for physical cell integrity e.g. echinocandins: caspofungin, micafungin, and anidulafungin. These tend to be very safe and have fewer side effects.
- those that target the cell membrane e.g. amphotericin B, azoles (Itraconazole, voriconazole, posaconazole etc). Mammalian (including human) cells have a cell membrane so this is a less specific target. These drugs target chemicals (ergosterols) that are far more plentiful in fungal cell membranes than they are in mammalian cell membranes so fungi are hit a lot harder than mammalian cells by these drugs. Consequently these drugs are effective at tackling fungal infections but do become toxic to humans if the dose is too high - a lot of care is taken with the use of these drugs to ensure dose is optimised and side effects are minimised.
- those that target DNA/RNA synthesis e.g. flucytosine. Mammalian cells make extensive use of DNA & RNA so this drug lacks specificity. Difficult to use.
Galactofuranose (the chemical made by UDP-galactopyranose mutase) is extensively used by A. fumigatus and is already being investigated as a molecule we could use to detect infection by this fungal pathogen, so further research into this molecule has the potential to improve diagnosis, detection and treatment of A. fumigatus infections.
The prospects for this antifungal target look good though of course there are many hurdles to overcome yet, but this is certainly one of the possibilities for improving the treatment of fungal infections, possibly serious fungal infections caused by Aspergillus fumigatus.
Characterization of recombinant UDP-galactopyranose mutase from Aspergillus fumigatus
Targeted Gene Deletion of Leishmania major UDP-galactopyranose Mutase Leads to Attenuated Virulence