Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Researchers Discover Genetic Key To Treating Deadly Fungal Infections

Date:
July 22, 2006
Source:
University of Minnesota
Summary:
University of Minnesota researchers have discovered how a prevalent fungal pathogen that causes 10,000 deaths per year in the United States overcomes the effects of antifungal drugs by duplicating a section of one of its chromosomes. Candida albicans, a type of yeast present in 80 percent of humans, is usually harmless. But in people whose immune systems are suppressed it can produce deadly, systemic infections, causing death in 30 to 50 percent of cases.

University of Minnesota researchers have discovered how a prevalent fungal pathogen that causes 10,000 deaths per year in the United States overcomes the effects of antifungal drugs by duplicating a section of one of its chromosomes.

Candida albicans, a type of yeast present in 80 percent of humans, is usually harmless. In otherwise healthy people, it can cause mild oral and vaginal infections (candiasis or thrush) that are easily treated. But in people whose immune systems are suppressed (by AIDS, chemotherapy, or drugs for surgery or organ transplantation) it can produce deadly, systemic infections, causing death in 30 to 50 percent of cases. Premature babies, whose immune systems are immature, are also at risk.

Led by Judith Berman, professor of genetics, cell biology and development, university researchers have discovered that C. albicans can neutralize an antifungal drug by modifying one of its own chromosomes. The cell duplicates one arm of chromosome 5 and deletes the other, replacing it with the duplicate arm. The altered chromosome is known as an “isochromosome.” The effect of the duplication is to help the cell tolerate the antifungal drug, thus allowing the yeast to continue growing despite the presence of the drug.

The discovery, which is reported in the July 21 issue of Science, could lead to strategies for making currently available antifungal drugs more effective.

“This creates important clinical opportunities,” said Berman. “The next step is to find a companion drug to block the formation of isochromosomes during antifungal treatment.”

Berman also explained that some cancerous tumors contain isochromosomes, which means that the finding may yield clues about how some tumors become resistant to chemotherapy and how researchers can develop companion drugs that inhibit the development of that resistance.

About 25,000 Americans develop these fungal infections each year. And in spite of treatment with antifungal drugs, 10,000 die. The number of hospital-acquired C. albicans infections is increasing. There are few drugs available to treat it and the fungus often becomes resistant to a drug, making it ineffective. The cost to the U.S. health care industry is $1 billion per year.

Berman explained that drugs that are toxic to fungi are often toxic to humans. Thus, anti-fungal drugs are usually intended to suppress, rather than kill, C. albicans. This suppression encourages the organism to evolve resistance to the drug in order to survive.

The university’s department of genetics, cell biology and development is jointly administered by the College of Biological Sciences and the Medical School.

Faculty in the College of Biological Sciences conduct research that ranges from molecules to ecosystems and from human to environmental health.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Minnesota. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Minnesota. "Researchers Discover Genetic Key To Treating Deadly Fungal Infections." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 July 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/07/060721200644.htm>.
University of Minnesota. (2006, July 22). Researchers Discover Genetic Key To Treating Deadly Fungal Infections. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/07/060721200644.htm
University of Minnesota. "Researchers Discover Genetic Key To Treating Deadly Fungal Infections." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/07/060721200644.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Snack Attack: Study Says Action Movies Make You Snack More

Snack Attack: Study Says Action Movies Make You Snack More

Newsy (Sep. 2, 2014) You're more likely to gain weight while watching action flicks than you are watching other types of programming, says a new study published in JAMA. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

Newsy (Sep. 2, 2014) The U.N. says the problem is two-fold — quarantine zones and travel restrictions are limiting the movement of both people and food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Get on Your Bike! London Cycling Popularity Soars Despite Danger

Get on Your Bike! London Cycling Popularity Soars Despite Danger

AFP (Sep. 1, 2014) Wedged between buses, lorries and cars, cycling in London isn't for the faint hearted. Nevertheless the number of people choosing to bike in the British capital has doubled over the past 15 years. Duration: 02:27 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Newsy (Sep. 1, 2014) New research says if you condition yourself to eat healthy foods, eventually you'll crave them instead of junk food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins