Even as a surge in the so-called Black Fungus cases, has triggered a severe shortage of Amphotericin B injections, researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (Hyderabad) think a tablet developed for treating Kala Azar, also a fungal disease, can be repurposed to treat mucormycosis.

The tablet, developed as a proof-of-concept at the Institute’s laboratory two years ago, is affordable and convenient to use, Chandra Shekhar Sharma, Associate Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering at IIT-H, told BusinessLine .

The researchers said that they mimicked in the lab the chemical processes that happen in the body when the drug passes through the gastrointestinal tract, to test its efficacy.

Cheaper alternative

It cost around ₹200 for the Department to develop the 60-mg tablet, promising a significant reduction in the cost of treatment of the fungal disease. The patient needs to take three tablets a day.

Besides making it easy to administer as it is taken orally, the tablet comes with reduced nephro-toxicity (adverse impact of medicines and chemicals on kidneys).

The institute is looking for partnerships from pharma companies to take the drug to clinical trials by seeking permission for emergency use and make it available for mass production. “In 2019 Saptarshi Majumdar and Chandra Shekhar Sharma from the the institute’s Department of Chemical Engineering had come out with a proven study about oral nanofibrous AMB (Amphotericin B) to treat Kala Azar,” Sharma said.

Kala Azar, also called Visceral leishmaniasis , is a disease where the parasite infects internal organs such as the liver.

“This is a first-ever attempt to fabricate nanofibrous oral tablets of Amphotericin B for the potential cure of Kala Azar. With the two years of advancement of examination, the researchers are now confident that the technology can be transferred to pharma partners for large-scale production,” he said.

Need for immediate trial

In view of the shortage of drugs to treat mucormycosis, the Institute feels that there is a need to allow emergency use, and immediate trials of this oral drug.

“The technology developed is free of IP which facilitates its mass-production and makes it affordable to the public at large,” Sharma said.