Nanozyme approach targets fungal infection

By Will Morton, The Science Advisory Board contributing writer

May 31, 2023 -- A nanozyme-based robotics approach could allow doctors to target and kill fungal pathogens at the sites of infection, according to a group at the University of Pennsylvania.

A team led by Dr. Hyun Koo, PhD, and Edward Steager, PhD, developed a nanozyme-based microrobotic platform that initiates localized catalysis in infection sites, which results in rapid fungal killing. The study was published recently in Advanced Materials.

"Structured nanozyme assemblies are directed to [Candida albicans]-infected sites using programmable algorithms to perform precisely guided spatial targeting and on-site catalysis, resulting in fungal eradication within 10 minutes," the group wrote.

Fungal pathogens have been designated by the World Health Organization (WHO) as microbial threats of the highest priority for global health. However, improving antifungal efficacy at the site of infection while avoiding off-target effects, fungal spread, and drug tolerance remains a major challenge, the authors explained.

To that end, the group developed a method using catalytic nanoparticles known as nanozymes. These enzymelike nanoparticles have metallic properties and may be thought of as miniature robotic systems that can be directed with magnets to precise locations of infections. Once the nanozymes are directed to the site, they elicit a response from reactive oxygen species, natural molecules that can destroy pathogens.

Electromagnetic cores precisely guide the array of nanozyme bots as they target the site of fungal infection
Electromagnetic cores precisely guide the array of nanozyme bots as they target the site of fungal infection. Images courtesy of Min Jun Oh and Seokyoung Yoon

"Our nanozyme assemblies show an incredible attraction to fungal cells, particularly when compared to human cells," Steager said in a statement. "This specific binding interaction paves the way for a potent and concentrated antifungal effect without affecting other uninfected areas."

Ultimately, the magnetic and catalytic properties of the approach and the binding specificity to fungi they described in the study open an opportunity for an automated "target, bind, and kill" approach that could be eventually deployed clinically, Koo noted.

"We've uncovered a powerful tool in the fight against pathogenic fungal infections," he said.

Bacteria vary between early- vs. late-onset colorectal cancer tumors: Study
Researchers at Georgetown University’s Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center studied the microbiomes of people with colorectal cancer and found that the...
FDA approves cell therapy treatment for transplantation in blood cancer patients
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Monday approved the product Omisirge, a cell therapy treatment, for transplantation in blood cancer patients....
Contagious fungal infections increase dramatically
According to national surveillance data, candidiasis cases caused by Candida auris, a highly infectious fungus, rose drastically between 2019...
Immune surprise: alarm protein drives inflammation
Trinity College scientists have discovered that a key immune alarm protein, previously believed to calm the immune response, actually does the opposite....
NIH awards $3M grant to investigate Candida auris fungus treatment
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has awarded a five-year $3 million grant to...
Pan-cancer mycobiome atlas shows potential of diagnostic, therapeutic applications for fungi
An international team of scientists has created a pan-cancer mycobiome atlas -- a survey of 35 types of cancer and their associated fungi. The study opens...

Copyright © 2023

Science Advisory Board on LinkedIn
Science Advisory Board on Facebook
Science Advisory Board on Twitter