Background: Infections caused by Candida have become a major source of morbidity
and mortality. Limited numbers of drugs are available to treat these infections.
Phytochemicals can be the major source of antifungal compounds. The aim of this publication
was to review the current literature to assess the challenges and scope of phytochemical
research in the development of new antifungal drugs. Methods: Literature describing cellular
nature of Candida, the development of drug resistance and target sites for the new drugs
were assessed. Publications reporting antifungal activities of crude extracts of plants, their
essential oils and identified chemical constituents were also summarised. Results: The results
showed that the development of new antifungal agents from natural sources is a complex
process due to the cellular nature of Candida and the types of infections caused, such
as superficial to life threatening systemic mycosis which necessitate systemic and topical
use of drugs. Efficacy of the drugs in the presence of body fluids, normal flora and medical
devices can also pose a challenge. Synthetic, semi-synthetic and natural compounds can be screened for their
antifungal activities against emerging target sites using new cost effective techniques to increase throughput.
Their efficacy, substantivity and site specific desired drug delivery can be enhanced using nanotechnology, hydrogel
formulation and bio-adhesive technology. Finally, partnership between academic research laboratories
and pharmaceutical industries is also necessary. Conclusion: Many challenges are identified in the development
of new antifungal drugs, however phytochemicals are still the major source of new antifungal drugs and should
be strategically explored.
Keywords: Candida, virulence factors, phytomedicine, antifungal agents, drug resistance, drug targets.
Rights & PermissionsPrintExport