- An oral solution has been developed by IIT Hyderabad researchers to treat Mucormycosis or the Black Fungus after two years of vigorous examinations
- The AmB tablets are pocket friendly and patient-friendly due to its slow release into the system
- The solution has received a waiver for transfers to pharma companies for mass production
The second wave of COVID-19 was more than just a virus induced pandemic in India. It also triggered a series of fungal infections diseases like the black fungal infections or Mucormycosis, yellow fungus and the white fungus. The rampant spread of diseases has posed a serious problem to the health care facilitators and the government of India. As India has already begun a vaccination drive to maximize prevention against the coronavirus, researchers have developed an oral drug to treat the Black fungus.
Related: – Is Black fungus a new threat to the Nations?
AmB for Black Fungus
Researchers at Indian Institute of Technology of Hyderabad (IIT-H) have developed an oral solution to treat the post-covid fungal infections, most likely the Black fungus. The oral drug is a nanofiber-based, controlled-release oral tablet of amphotericin B (AmB) that has been previously found effective in treating Kala Azar. After two years of rigorous examinations and advancements, researchers of IIT-H are now confident that the technology is effective enough to be transferred to favourable pharma partners for mass production.
The team of researchers included Prof. Saptarshi Majumdar and Dr. Chandra Shekhar Sharma from the Department of Chemical Engineeringand their PhD scholars Mrunalini Gaydhane and Anindita Laha, who have been working on the oral solution for the last two years.
The researchers have developed the tablets ensuring its easy accessibility and affordability. One can procure the 60mg AmB tablets at 200 rupees and are also patient-friendly, as its release into the system is slow and steady which reduces nephrotoxicity (adverse impact of medicines and chemicals on the kidney). The researchers have briefed more about the tablet and its implications on their YouTube channel.
Kala Azar as a treatment for Black Fungus
Presently, the Kala Azar or leishmaniasis treatments are being used to treat the Black fungus and the other fungus persisting around the country due to its availability and affordability. Due to widespread increase in the number of cases, the team of researchers argued the need to allow emergency and immediate trial of the AmB oral drugs.
In a statement issued by IIT-H, it stated that in 2019 Prof. Saptarshi Majumdar Dr. Chandra Shekhar Sharma made a noteworthy study about oral nanofibrous AMB to be effective for Kala Azar. It further stated, “This is a first-ever attempt to fabricate nanofibrous oral tablets of Amphotericin B for the potential cure of Leishmaniasis or Kala Azar.”
The institute briefed that the research was funded by DST-Nanomission and intended to deliver Amphotericin B (AmB) orally at an extremely slow rate within the therapeutic window. The main purpose was to increase the drug absorption and reduce aggregation, to lower the drug toxicity. For this, the team has selected gelatin, an FDA-approved polymer, as an excipient for drug molecules.
Oral administration of the drug
IIT-H clarified that the main reason behind the oral administration of the drug is to prevent nephrotoxicity. Explaining the reason for oral administration not preferred despite the comfortable and effective route, the researchers said that due to its amphiphilic nature, the AmB has poor aqueous solubility and forms aggregates in the system, which stresses renal filtration and thus causing nephrotoxicity.
To prevent the imposition of nephrotoxicity due to high loading of the drugs, the team of researchers has carried out a cell viability assay (MTT assay) against human kidney fibroblast cells which illustrated no evidence of cell toxicity caused by AmB as well as a minute amount of Glutaraldehyde crosslinker.
Dr. Chandra Shekhar Sharma, Associate Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering said, “As the main idea behind our research is to find a solution to serve society, the technology developed is made free from IP so that it can be mass-produced and is affordable and available to the public at large.”