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IIT Delhi Scientists Develop Novel Antifungal Strategy for Fungal Eye Infection

An all-women team of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi researchers led by Professor Archana Chugh from Kusuma School of Biological Sciences (along with her PhD students Dr Aastha Jain, Harsha Rohira, and Sujithra Shankar) has developed a novel peptide-based antifungal strategy for enhanced Natamycin penetration in an effort to develop a better antifungal strategy for fungal keratitis. “These peptides are known to have the ability to carry molecules with them throughout the cells,” said Prof Archana Chugh, Kusuma School of Biological Sciences, IIT Delhi. As a result, when Natamycin was linked to the peptide, the resulting complex had a greater antifungal effect.”

The researchers discovered that conjugate drug penetration was 5-fold higher than Natamycin in rabbits, allowing for a reduction in dosage frequency. Furthermore, 44 percent of mice treated with the new compound had complete clearance of fungal infection, compared to 13 percent of mice treated with Natamycin suspension alone. The study was recently published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

Dr. Shikha Yadav, Head of Animal Facility at the National Institute of Biologicals, NOIDA, collaborated in the animal experiments. The project was initially supported by the Department of Biotechnology, and afterwards by Nanomission, the Government of India's Department of Science and Technology. Prof Chugh went on to say, "This is a terrific example of "Make in India"; nevertheless, we still have a few barriers to overcome before this innovative conjugate can be used in clinics and benefit patients." We are confident that the Biotechnology/ Pharmaceutical industry will come forward for clinical trials after seeing positive findings in animal studies.”

“Collaboration between Clinicians and Scientists is crucial to develop novel and better medications, diagnostic gadgets, etc., which can improve patient care,” said Dr Sushmita G Shah, Ophthalmologist and Cornea Specialist, Eye Life, Mumbai. We're quite happy with the outcomes so far, and we're looking forward to starting a clinical trial with industry and other relevant agencies.

Dr. Virender Singh Sangwan, Director Innovations, Dr. Shroff's Charity Eye Hospital, New Delhi, stated of the research study lead by Prof. Chugh, "The study clearly indicated improved penetration and efficiency of a conjugated version of Natamycin for the treatment of fungal keratitis." Fungal keratitis is a major public health concern in India and most poor countries.


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