Methods for treating a painful nail fungus — called onychomycosis — that causes nail disfigurement and possible infection can be costly. Although there are several over-the-counter remedies available, the most effective treatment — a broad spectrum triazole called efinaconazole — can cost $600 a bottle.
As such, a team from the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences has been experimenting with nanotechnology to improve the effectiveness of the efinaconazole treatment (which often requires more than one bottle for effective treatment) while simultaneously making the treatment more cost effective.
To do this, the team added nitric oxide-releasing nanoparticles to the efinaconazole, achieving comparable antifungal effects, but at only a fraction of the concentration required using just the medication.
"Nanotechnology is being studied and employed in many areas of medicine and surgery to better deliver established imaging and therapeutic agents to ultimately improve patient outcomes," said Adam Friedman, M.D., professor of dermatology at the school. "A quickly emerging roadblock in patient care is, unfortunately, access to medications due to rising cost and poor insurance coverage."
A benefit of employing nanoparticles in this process, according to researchers, is that nanoparticles can reach infections in hard-to-reach locations, which is an obstacle experienced by most antifungals.
"What we found was that we could impart the same antifungal activity at the highest concentrations tested of either alone by combining them at a fraction of these concentrations," Friedman explained. "The impact of this combo, which we visualized using electron microscopy as compared to either product alone, highlighted their synergistic damaging effects at concentrations that would be completely safe to human cells."
The study appears in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology.