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Trans Am Clin Climatol Assoc. 2008;119:197-215; discussion 215-6.

In search of the holy grail of antifungal therapy.

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Department of Medicine, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, Mississippi 39216, USA.


The ideal antifungal agent remains an elusive goal for treatment of life-threatening systemic fungal infections. Such an agent would have broad antifungal activity, low rates of resistance, flexible routes of administration, few associated adverse events, and limited drug-drug interactions. Only three of the seven classes of antifungal agents currently available are suitable for treatment of systemic infection: the polyenes, the azoles, and the echinocandins. None match all the characteristics of an ideal agent, the Holy Grail of antifungal therapy. Academia and industry need to collaborate in the search for new lead antifungal compounds using traditional screening methods as well as the new pharmacogenomics methods. Enhancing efficacy and reducing toxicity of the currently available therapeutic agents is also another important avenue of study. As an example, the Mycosis Research Center at the University of Mississippi Medical Center has identified pyogenic polyenes in commercial preparations of amphotericin B deoxycholate which correlate with infusion related toxicities. A highly purified formulation of amphotericin B appears promising, with a better therapeutic index compared to its parent compound as evidenced by results of in vitro and in vivo studies reviewed in this presentation.

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