3D metal complexes could be the answer to overcoming fungal drug-resistance

Metal compounds with the highest antifungal activity showed low toxicity

While some metals, such as silver, have long been known to possess antimicrobial properties, there have been few systematic studies of anti-infective metal complexes- until recently. Several reports have described promising antibacterial properties of metal complexes in the last few years, including a previous study from Queensland scientists.

In this previous study, Blaskovich and colleagues demonstrated that metal compounds, such as the platinum-containing anticancer drug cisplatin, showed antibacterial capabilities. They then conducted the first large-scale screening to look into their antifungal potential.

In a statement to the university, Dr. Blaskovich reveals, “we found 21 percent of the metal compounds screened showed antifungal activity – compared to only one percent of the 300,000 non-metal compounds screened previously.”

The scientist also explained that those metal compounds with the highest antifungal activity showed low toxicity in initial tests. Therefore, it undermines the commonly held notion that metal-containing compounds are inherently (more) toxic.

Fungal infections cause 1.5 million deaths a year- new treatments desperately needed

“Fungal infections cause an estimated 1.5 million deaths a year and are especially dangerous for people who are immunocompromised, such as chemotherapy and transplant patients,” explains Blaskovich.

The scientist highlights that while bacteria are becoming resistant to antibiotics, the bacteria that cause meningitis and skin, lungs, and bloodstream infections are also evolving resistance to the known therapies.

Blaskovich clarifies that “there are only ten antifungal drugs in various phases of clinical development at the moment, and not all of them will pass trials to make it to patients, so we urgently need more options.”

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