Aijaz Ahmad, Julitha Molepo and Mrudula Patel Pages 4135 - 4150 ( 16 )
Background: Infections caused by Candida have become a major source of morbidity and mortality. Limited numbers of drugs are available to treat these infections. Phytochemicals can be the major source of antifungal compounds. The aim of this publication was to review the current literature to assess the challenges and scope of phytochemical research in the development of new antifungal drugs. Methods: Literature describing cellular nature of Candida, the development of drug resistance and target sites for the new drugs were assessed. Publications reporting antifungal activities of crude extracts of plants, their essential oils and identified chemical constituents were also summarised. Results: The results showed that the development of new antifungal agents from natural sources is a complex process due to the cellular nature of Candida and the types of infections caused, such as superficial to life threatening systemic mycosis which necessitate systemic and topical use of drugs. Efficacy of the drugs in the presence of body fluids, normal flora and medical devices can also pose a challenge. Synthetic, semi-synthetic and natural compounds can be screened for their antifungal activities against emerging target sites using new cost effective techniques to increase throughput. Their efficacy, substantivity and site specific desired drug delivery can be enhanced using nanotechnology, hydrogel formulation and bio-adhesive technology. Finally, partnership between academic research laboratories and pharmaceutical industries is also necessary. Conclusion: Many challenges are identified in the development of new antifungal drugs, however phytochemicals are still the major source of new antifungal drugs and should be strategically explored.
Candida, virulence factors, phytomedicine, antifungal agents, drug resistance, drug targets.
Department of Oral Biological Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, 7 York Road, Parktown, Johannesburg 2193, South Africa.