Antifungal Plant Defensins

Antifungal Plant Defensin Technology Platform

Hexima has identified several plant peptides with potent antifungal activity against a broad range of human fungal pathogens. These peptides are all members of the plant defensin class.

Plant defensins are a new class of therapeutic with several attributes that make them suitable for use as drugs:


Chemical structure makes them stable and suitable for storage at room temperature.


Highly water soluble, eliminating the need for complex  formulations and enhancing nail penetration.


Rapidly kill fungal cells via a novel mechanism of action.


Produced in a yeast expression system at large scale with a simple purification process.

Plant defensins as new treatments for fungal toenail infections

Hexima has demonstrated that some defensin peptides, such as its lead molecule, pezadeftide, can be formulated for efficient penetration through human nails. A combination of powerful and specific antifungal activity, rapid nail penetration and ease of manufacture make pezadeftide an excellent candidate for the treatment of onychomycosis, a difficult to treat fungal infection of the nail bed. Hexima is conducting global clinical trials testing pezadeftide for the treatment of onychomycosis. Hexima’s goal is to develop a safe and effective treatment for onychomycosis via a consumer friendly topical application with a short course of therapy and rapid resolution of disease.

Potential other applications

Hexima is also investigating the application of its plant defensin technology to other human fungal diseases. Defensins have potent antifungal activity against a range of fungal pathogens that cause localised human infections. Their new and different mechanism of action provides the potential for activity against fungal pathogens that are resistant to existing drugs.