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Vitamin B3 Could Treat Drug Resistant Fungal Infections

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

Researchers have found that vitamin B3 could treat drug resistant fungal infections that attack individuals with compromised immunity and can lead to death. Fungal infections that include Candida albicans and Aspergillus fumigatus have become resistant to current treatments. Researchers from Montreal have discovered that vitamin B3 has broad antifungal properties.

Patients with compromised immune systems include those with HIV, receiving chemotherapy and organ transplant recipients. Vitamin B3 in the form nicotinamide was studied in mice and found to have strong properties for inhibiting the growth of C. albicans, a form of yeast infection.

Vitamin B3 worked against the C. albicans enzyme, known as Hst3 that is essential to the growth and survival of the yeast infection and also limited the growth of Aspergillus fumigatus. Nicotinamide also restricted the growth of Aspergillus, a fungal infection that can cause severe allergic reaction and death for patients with lowered immunity.

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Vitamin B3 was equally effective for reducing the growth of both normal and drug resistant fungal infections, making it a potential new approach for treatment for common hospital acquired infection that occurs in patients whose immune systems are compromised. Diabetics are also susceptible to yeast infections.

Martine Raymond, a professor at the University of Montreal Department of Biochemistry explains, "There is an urgent need to develop new therapies to kill C. albicans because it is one of the leading causes of hospital-acquired infections and is associated with high mortality rates."

The yeast infection Candida albicans is an opportunistic infection that takes over when immunity becomes compromised but is present normally in the body. When yeast infection enters the bloodstream it can lead to death. According to the New England Journal of Medicine book review, “Aspergillus fumigatus and Aspergillosis", the fungus “has emerged as one of the most common and most feared opportunistic infections in immunocompromised patients”, making the findings that vitamin B3 could treat fungal infections important the timely.

Raymond says the findings that vitamin B3 could treat drug resistant fungal infections are “exciting” because it means fewer side effects for patients. Finding new therapies to treat infection has become a focus from researchers. The Montreal researchers have discovered that Vitamin B3 in the form of nicotinamide could be developed to treat normal and drug resistant fungal infections.

Nature Medicine 16 774–780 (2010) doi:10.1038/nm.2175