An all-women research team from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi has developed an antifungal strategy for a more effective treatment of fungal infections in the eye.
The team, led by Prof Archana Chugh from Kusuma School of Biological Sciences, along with her PhD students, Dr Aastha Jain, Harsha Rohira, and Sujithra Shankar, has been working in collaboration with Dr Sushmita G Shah, Ophthalmologist and Cornea Specialist from Dr CM Shah Memorial Charitable Trust and Eye Life, Mumbai.
In a statement released to the media, IIT-Delhi announced, “India has a huge agrarian population, which is very prone to vegetative trauma while farming. Vegetative trauma to the eye is generally caused by the infected vegetable matter such as plant leaves and often leads to fungal infection of the cornea in the eyes or fungal keratitis.”
It went on to state, “According to the WHO, fungal keratitis is a leading cause of monocular blindness i.e, blindness in one eye, in the developing world. According to a recent study published in Lancet, the highest annual incidence per 1 lakh people is reported in Southern Asia and India accounts for more than 50 per cent of the fungal keratitis cases out of total microbial keratitis cases.”
According to the institute the drugs that are currently available are “less effective, especially in severe disease due to poor drug penetration, poor bioavailability, and antifungal efficacy.”
Professor Archana Chugh said, “These peptides are known to have the ability to carry molecules with them in the cells. Therefore, when poorly permeable Natamycin was attached to the peptide, the formed complex showed better antifungal effect.”
The study found that “conjugate drug penetration was five-fold higher than Natamycin in rabbits, thus enabling lowering of the dosage frequency. Further, 44 per cent of mice showed complete resolution of fungal infection with the novel conjugate as compared with 13 per cent of mice that were treated with Natamycin suspension only. The study has been recently published in the International Journal of Pharmaceutics,” IIT-D said.