Researchers from the Kannur University Department of Biotechnology and Microbiology have isolated an anti-fungal molecule in a bacterium. The molecule promises to be active against invasive fungal infections that primarily affect people with immune-deficiency including HIV/AIDS patients and those undergoing cancer chemotherapy or organ transplantation.

Researchers K. Sreejith and K. Ajesh say they purified and characterised the anti-fungal lipopeptide molecule from the Bacillus cereus AK1 bacterium. The pathogens the molecule is active against include invasive yeast pathogens (infectious agents) in the Cryptococcosis and Candidiasis species that affect people when immunity weakens, they say.

According to Dr. Sreejith, Associate Professor and head of the department, the finding was presented in the second international conference on anti-microbial research held at Lisbon, Portugal, in November 2012.

Their manuscript was accepted for publication last month by the Journal of Applied Microbiology. Formally announcing the research finding at a press conference in Kannur on September 3, Kannur University Vice-Chancellor M.K. Abdul Khader said that it is a major breakthrough as it indicates that the molecule promises to have potential pharmaceutical and biotechnological applications.

The researchers named the molecule ‘Kannurin’ as a tribute to the place where the research work was carried out. Dr. Sreejith and Mr. Ajesh, a research scholar in the department, say that the drug resistance by the pathogenic fungi is more prevalent.

One of the great challenges is to find substitutes for classical antibiotics against infectious diseases caused by the invasive infectious agents responsible morbidity and mortality of patients with compromised immunity, they say. They further add that the new molecule is devoid of haemolytic activity which is characterised by accelerated rate of red blood cell destruction leading to health problems such as anaemia.

The absence of less haemolytic activity is important for any anti-microbial agents for its medicinal applications, they point out.

Aside from isolating the molecule, their work tested its potency against the fungi. The mode and mechanism of action are yet to be evaluated.

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