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Int J Antimicrob Agents. 2007 Aug;30(2):108-17. Epub 2007 May 23.

Recent advances in antifungal chemotherapy.

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National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Medical School, 1st Department of Propedeutic Medicine, Research Laboratory for Infectious Diseases and Antimicrobial Chemotherapy G.K. Daikos, Greece.


For over 50 years, amphotericin B deoxycholate (AmBD) has been the 'gold standard' in antifungal chemotherapy, despite its frequent toxicities. However, improved treatment options for invasive fungal infections (IFIs) have been developed during the last 15 years. Newer antifungal agents, including less toxic lipid preparations of AmBD, triazoles and the echinocandins, have been added to our armamentarium against IFIs. Some of these newer drugs can now replace AmBD as primary therapy (e.g. caspofungin for candidiasis, voriconazole for aspergillosis), whilst others offer new therapeutic options for difficult-to-treat IFIs (e.g. posaconazole for zygomycosis, fusariosis and chromoblastomycosis). It is interesting that extended use of newer antifungals such as fluconazole, despite decreasing the mortality attributed to candidiasis, resulted in selection of species resistant to several antifungals (Candida krusei, Candida glabrata); whilst several publications suggest that prolonged use of voriconazole may expose severely immunocompromised patients to the risk of zygomycosis (breakthrough). On the other hand, the differences in the mode of action of newer antifungals such as echinocandins raise the question whether combination antifungal therapy is more effective than monotherapy. Finally, the availability of an oral formulation with excellent biosafety of several newer antifungals (e.g. posaconazole) makes them candidates for prophylactic or prolonged maintenance therapy.

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