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UBC researcher finds new way to treat devastating fungal infections

Devastating blood-borne fungal infections that can be lethal for HIV/AIDS, cancer, and organ transplant patients may be treated more successfully, thanks to a new drug delivery method developed by researchers at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

Pharmaceutical Sciences Prof. Kishor M. Wasan has created a liquid preparation that incorporates drug molecules in fat (lipid-based formulation) so that Amphotericin B, a potent anti-fungal agent, can be taken by mouth with minimal side effects. The agent, used for about 50 years, is currently administered intravenously and has significant toxic side effects, notably severe kidney toxicity as well as serious tissue damage at the intravenous injection site.

Wasan and his research team have discovered that the oral preparation triggers a different molecular interaction than intravenous delivery. The lipid-based system attacks fungal cells only while inhibiting the drugs interaction with kidney cells boosting effectiveness and dramatically reducing toxicity.

The research findings will be presented today at a meeting sponsored by the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists in Washington, D.C. Findings will be published in July 2007 in Drug Development and Industrial Pharmacy.

Because the oral form of the drug is easier to administer and cheaper than intravenous delivery, Wasan predicts that more patients especially those in underserved areas and developing countries would have access to the medicine. He notes that Amphotericin B is also used to treat Leishmaniasis, a parasitic disease that affects an estimated two million people worldwide according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) in the U.S.

This research was triggered by clinicians needing a way to kill these fungal infections without risking the patients kidney, says Wasan, who is a Distinguished University Scholar and a Canadian Institutes of Health Research Chair in Dru
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Contact: Hilary Thomson
hilary.thomson@ubc.ca
604-822-2644
University of British Columbia
5-Mar-2007


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