Antifungal Drugs: The Current Armamentarium and Development of New Agents
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Invasive fungal infections are becoming an increasingly important cause of human mortality and morbidity, particularly for immunocompromised populations. The fungal pathogens Candida albicans, Cryptococcus neoformans, and Aspergillus fumigatus collectively contribute to over 1 million human deaths annually. Hence, the importance of safe and effective antifungal therapeutics for the practice of modern medicine has never been greater. Given that fungi are eukaryotes like their human host, the number of unique molecular targets that can be exploited for drug development remains limited. Only three classes of molecules are currently approved for the treatment of invasive mycoses. The efficacy of these agents is compromised by host toxicity, fungistatic activity, or the emergence of drug resistance in pathogen populations. Here we describe our current arsenal of antifungals and highlight current strategies that are being employed to improve the therapeutic safety and efficacy of these drugs. We discuss state-of-the-art approaches to discover novel chemical matter with antifungal activity and highlight some of the most promising new targets for antifungal drug development. We feature the benefits of combination therapy as a strategy to expand our current repertoire of antifungals and discuss the antifungal combinations that have shown the greatest potential for clinical development. Despite the paucity of new classes of antifungals that have come to market in recent years, it is clear that by leveraging innovative approaches to drug discovery and cultivating collaborations between academia and industry, there is great potential to bolster the antifungal armamentarium.
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