Common herbicide compound may save millions of lives

Common herbicide compound may save millions of lives
UQ PhD student Mario D. Garcia conducting one of the many experiments involved in the research. Credit: University of Queensland

A chemical compound found in common herbicides could help fight hospital-acquired human fungal pathogenic infections, which claim an estimated two million lives per year.

A team of international researchers led by The University of Queensland has discovered that the chemical chlorimuron ethyl also targets a range of that are potentially fatal to humans, particularly people undergoing treatments which place the immune system under stress.

Dr. Luke Guddat, from UQ's School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences, said the finding was very timely, given the growth in drug-resistant infections.

"There are more drug-resistant fungal diseases than ever – posing a major threat to global human health – and new drugs are urgently required to combat these diseases," he said.

"Through this research we wanted to see if a specific class of commercial herbicide has the ability to stop the growth of these infections.

"We thought this was a good idea, since plants and fungi have a similar enzyme that these chemicals inhibit, and it turns out we were correct."

The researchers tested five different families of compounds, to see if they could inhibit a key enzyme from the , Candida albicans and Cryptococcus neoformans.

Common herbicide compound may save millions of lives
Credit: University of Queensland

One of the five, chlorimurion ethyl, was a stand-out candidate.

"In studies in the petri dish and with mice, it was highly effective at preventing proliferation of growth," Dr. Guddat said.

"By inhibiting this enzyme you're removing a key metabolic step that makes three types of , which these infections need to grow.

"And most importantly, humans don't have this – we obtain these amino acids from our food – so there's very little chance that these compounds will be toxic to humans, a factor which limits the use of many of the other currently prescribed antifungal drugs."

Dr. Guddat said while there's a bright future for the development of compounds to treat this type of , more research is necessary.

"We're only at the early stage of this journey, but we're excited to see the prospects for new treatments in the future."

The study was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Explore further

New study targets lethal fungal infection

More information: Mario D. Garcia et al. Commercial AHAS-inhibiting herbicides are promising drug leads for the treatment of human fungal pathogenic infections, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2018). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1809422115
Citation: Common herbicide compound may save millions of lives (2018, October 4) retrieved 22 September 2019 from
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Oct 04, 2018
So what happens when diseases become resistant to this stuff? Everything dies?

Oct 04, 2018
There are also helpful bugs in the gut of everything from bees upwards which are killed of by glyphosphate residues.
Some antibiotics like ciproflaxin also attack the DNA of our mitochondria so this chemical warfare is a risky game best undertaken with much research.

Oct 04, 2018
This is not a good idea as the herbicides advance and the infectious problems advance in compliment, but leaves the humans and their immune systems behind.

and when the herbicides or whatever finally fail, you are left with a puny defeated undeveloped human ----and a monster over-evolved double muscled pathogen.

Guess which one wins.

The history in this stuff is clear. The pathogens evolve past the newly implemented barrier. It's just a matter of time.

Oct 04, 2018

My computer system is having trouble establishing a secure connection to the linked site(s). Can anyone who has access to the study source site/paper/details please get the information which would answer the following question for me?

Question: Do any of the currently marketed 'proprietary brands' of glyphosate-based pesticide formulations include this particular ingredient (chlorimurion ethyl) as part of their formulation?

Thanks in advance to anyone who can help answer my question. :)

Oct 05, 2018
Makes a nice change from ambulance-chasers suing pesticide and herbicide companies for unproven cases linking them to cancer.

Oct 05, 2018
Guess which one wins. The history in this stuff is clear.

Yup, that's why humanity is extinct. /s

Oct 07, 2018
Humanity is extinct because of Sin

Oct 07, 2018
Humanity is extinct because of Sin

So then explain why over 7 billion of us are still here...

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