WARF: P06201US

Beta-Peptides with Antifungal Activity


Samuel Gellman, Sean Palecek, William Pomerantz, Amy Karlsson

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) is seeking commercial partners interested in developing a less toxic alternative than Amphotericin B for treating fungal infections.
OVERVIEWFungal infections, such as infections by the yeast Candida albicans, are a persistent health problem in some patient populations. Topical yeast infections affect the mouth, vagina, skin, stomach and urinary tract, producing unpleasant side effects. Systemic infections are a significant and often life-threatening clinical problem, particularly in patients with an indwelling intravascular catheter or those who are immunosuppressed.

Both types of C. albicans infections can be treated with Amphotericin B, an antifungal agent that acts by disrupting fungal cell walls.  However, Amphotericin B is extremely toxic and can only be given for a limited number of days.
THE INVENTIONUW-Madison researchers have developed a less toxic alternative for treating yeast infections— synthetic beta-peptides with antifungal properties. These relatively short peptides contain cyclically constrained beta-amino acid residues. They are designed to adopt helical conformations that mimic the globally amphiphilic alpha helical conformations of many host-defense peptides, but they remain effective under physiological conditions that render host-defense alpha-peptides inactive against fungal pathogens. Like Amphotericin B, these peptides probably act by disrupting fungal cell walls. In contrast to Amphotericin B, these peptides do not appear to disrupt human red blood cell membranes at concentrations that kill C. albicans.
  • Treating fungal infections, including infections by the yeast C. albicans
  • As effective as Amphotericin B against C. albicans
  • Causes minimal lysis of mammalian red blood cells in vitro, suggesting they are less toxic than Amphotericin B
  • Active under assay conditions that mimic physiological pH and ionic strength
  • Can be attached to a second molecule to deliver them to specific cells or tissues
  • Can be modified to generate a variety of useful antifungal agents
  • Potentially useful as antifungal coatings for implantable medical devices, such as stents, valves or pacemakers, or as topical antifungal agents
For More Information About the Inventors
Contact Information
For current licensing status, please contact Rafael Diaz at or 608-960-9847.
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