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publicado em 22/01/2012 às 09h00:00
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Researchers used photodynamic therapy to combat nail mycosis

From the inactivation of microorganisms is possible to treat diseases using light to activate the drug compounds

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Researchers at the Institute of Physics of São Carlos (IFSC) USP using the technique of inactivation of microorganisms by photodynamic therapy to combat fungi that cause ringworm of the nail (onychomycosis). The expectation is to produce a practical apparatus and technique available so accessible to the whole population.

Photodynamic therapy is a treatment based on the use of light for activation of drug compounds and has been increasingly strong presence, especially in the field of dermatology.

Conventional treatments for onychomycosis are more palliative than a permanent solution and are associated with high rates of failure and recurrence. The Optics Group of IFSC, on the initiative of Professor Vanderlei Bagnato, has worked for some years with the technique of photodynamic inactivation of microorganisms that cause diseases. From the potential of the method and the current frame of the treatment of ringworm, we designed a research project in this area and designed a prototype of the equipment.

A collaboration began with the pharmaceutical Ana Paula da Silva, then graduate student, who already used the technique with photosensitizing drugs in shampoos to treat dandruff. He was then signed a partnership with the University Anhembi Morumbi (Sao Paulo), through the teacher Armando Bega, the course of Podiatry, providing infrastructure to advance research.

For the diagnosis of onychomycosis, Ana Paula makes use of a fluorescence equipment, already available in the market for the diagnosis of caries and plaque. The equipment allows a more exact locations of the fungi that cause infection through the characteristic fluorescence of the microorganism itself. Today the research is based on the use of two different prototypes for the treatment of the nail, and each prototype works with a different wavelength in order to enable different substances in drugs, which differ both in chemical structure and absorption spectrum . Photosensitive compounds are very different, says Natalia Mayumi Inada, specialist lab Optics Group of IFSC and guiding the project. The aim is to compare the effectiveness of each compound and use it for each one, a specific light source: one in the red area and one in the blue region, he adds.

The equipment radiates light at a specific wavelength and has the function of activating the photosensitive compound that already in contact with the damaged nail, generates reactive oxygen species that are harmful to microorganisms. These reactive oxygen species are toxic to the fungus or bacteria and eventually eliminate them, explains Natalia. The medication is in direct contact with the injury for only one hour, lit by twenty minutes. With the speed of action, Ana Paula account that can handle ten to 15 patients per day. Both the prototype of the equipment and the technique of photodynamic inactivation are already patented. The medications used are commercial, already approved for experimental clinical studies. One is of Russian origin and other national, synthesized by a pharmaceutical company in Ribeirão Preto (São Paulo).

<b> Partners </ b>

Currently, Ana Paula is studying a masters degree at the IFSC and travels weekly to the capital, which is about forty patients between cases completed and in process of completion. After completion of treatment of patients in Sao Paulo, for continuing research, the team plans to build a team in Ribeirao Preto. This is because a company specializing in medical and dental city has expressed interest in transforming the prototype equipment and produce it. Thus there will be a collaboration with a podiatrist for treatment of a group of patients, from which results sent to the National Agency for Sanitary Surveillance (ANVISA) to approve the equipment and final product development.

Another potential partner is a cosmetics industry in Sao Paulo, which plans to close another group of patients in the capital and also develop the equipment on a commercial basis. "For us, this partnership with industry is very important to make the technique available in the community because we know that the research project will reach the end, unlike the number of patients suffering from this disease. We are working full steam ahead for the technique is widespread, especially in an economically affordable, says Natalia.

Treatment of onychomycosis by photodynamic therapy already exists, but is very costly and few can enjoy the advantages of the technique. Therefore, currently the treatment of onychomycosis occurs in two forms: oral or topical treatment. In both cases, the answer is not so effective, why the majority of patients treated by Ana Paula suffer from bad years. Besides, who takes medication and therapy has side effects that have used local application and use of topical medication, which also helps to prevent microorganisms to create resistance, explains Ana Paula. It has been proven that some specific microorganisms have developed resistance to some drugs, complete Natalia. In the case of photodynamic inactivation, patients can undergo many treatment sessions are necessary. Our only recommendation to this effect is that there is a one week interval between each application, says Natalia.

The treatment is being offered for free, so experimental at this stage of the research.

Besides the practical application of treatment, Ana Paula developing a culture of microorganisms in the laboratory, the process called in vitro, a means by which investigates biological processes outside of living systems. Ana Paula plaque grows a large part of the lineage of fungi that cause onychomycosis and apply photodynamic therapy to assess their reaction. It is the combination of basic research, which is the part laboratory, with applied research, which is itself the clinical part, involving patients. This arouses much interest to the community from potential patients to other universities and companies that want to work together to spread the technique, Natalia finishes.

Source: USP
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