Researchers in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, have found that vitamin B3 is a potent treatment for drug-resistant fungal infections that can attack people with compromised immune systems which can then lead to illness and even death.

Fungal infections such as Candida albicans and Aspergillus fumigatus have become resistant to current drug treatments, yet are found almost everywhere. Patients with compromised immune systems, such those with diabetes, HIV infection, or who are undergoing chemotherapy or organ transplants, are the usual victims of difficult-to-treat fungal infections.

Researchers at the Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC) of the University of Montreal found that Vitamin B3, in the form of nicotinamide, strongly reduced both normal and drug-resistant strains of Candida albicans virulence in mice. Nicotinamide also prevented the growth of other pathogenic Candida species and Aspergillus fumigatus.

A professor at the University of Montreal Department of Biochemistry explained that the need to develop new therapies to kill Candida albicans is urgent, because it has become one of the leading causes of often fatal hospital-acquired infections.

Candida albicans, although present in the body under normal conditions, is an opportunistic infection that takes over when immunity becomes compromised. When this yeast infection enters the bloodstream it can lead to death.

According to a book review in the New England Journal of Medicine, “Aspergillus fumigatus and Aspergillosis…” (the name of an Aspergillus infection) “…has emerged as one of the most common and most feared opportunistic infections in immunocompromised patients.”

Finding that vitamin B3 might effectively treat drug resistant fungal infections is seen as a much-needed breakthrough because it has fewer side effects for patients than currently used drugs.

SOURCES: Nature Medicine, July, 2010,

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