Rachel Fuller Brown discovered first antifungal antibiotic nystatin drug

Rachel Fuller Brown – discoverer of nystatin drug

Rachel Fuller Brown

Biography & contributions

Rachel Fuller Brown was born on November 23, 1898 – died on January 14, 1980. Brown received her BA from Mount Holyoke College and her PhD from the University of Chicago. Brown won the Distinguished Service Award of the New York State Department of Healt. She researched on syphilis tests.

Brown's early work at the Department of Health focused on identifying the types of bacteria that caused pneumonia, a disease that causes inflammation of the lungs. Brown helped to develop a pneumonia vaccine. Brown purified (cleansed) this second antibiotic into small white crystals, and in 1950 Brown and Hazen announced at a meeting of the National Academy of Sciences that they had found a new antifungal agent. They patented (gained official right to the product) it through the nonprofit Research Corporation, naming it "nystatin" in honor of the New York State Division of Laboratories and Research.

In collaboration with microbiologist Elizabeth Lee Hazen developed the first useful antifungal antibiotic, Nystatin. Brown and Hazen together discovered two additional antibiotics - phalmycin and capacidin.

Facts about nystatin

Nystatin is a polyene antifungal medication that is derived from a bacterium, Streptomyces noursei. It is used primarily for infections involving the skin, mouth, esophagus and vagina.Nystatin may be safely given orally as well as applied topically due to its minimal absorption through mucocutaneous membranes such as the gut and the skin. Nystatin is still in use today and has even been employed to combat Dutch elm disease and stop fungal growth on water-damaged artworks.

It is also used prophylactically in Very Low Birth Weight (<1500 g) infants to prevent invasive fungal infections, although fluconazole is the preferred agent. It has been found to reduce the incidence of invasive fungal infections and also reduce deaths when used in these babies. Nystatin is also used as a tool by scientists performing perforated patch-clamp electrophysiologic recordings of cells.

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