The drug works through a novel mechanism. Unlike other antifungals that poke holes in yeast cell membranes or inhibit sterol synthesis, the new drug blocks how necessary proteins attach to the yeast cell wall. This means C. auris yeast can't grow properly and have a harder time forming drug-resistant communities that are a stubborn source of hospital outbreaks. The drug's target — a yeast enzyme called Gwt1 — is also highly conserved across fungal species, suggesting the new drug could treat a range of infections.
The drug is first in a new class of antifungals, which could help stave off drug resistance. Even the most troublesome strains are unlikely to have developed workarounds for its mechanism of action, says study lead Mahmoud A. Ghannoum, PhD, professor of dermatology at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and director of the Center for Medical Mycology at Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center.