Destroying Fungal Infections

Reported October 28, 2008

A genetic therapy is being developed to target yeast-causing infections ranging from diaper rash to other life-threatening diseases.

Candida albicans lives in most people’s gastrointestinal tracts with no problem, but an overgrowth of the fungus can lead to infection. In the United States, it is the fourth leading cause of bloodstream infections in hospitalized patients. Researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC) have found, however, that knocking out a gene in Candida responsible for the production of key protein may provide a new drug therapy for infection. In order to infect a host, Candida must have the targeted Ssk1 gene. Since the protein the gene produces has not been found in humans or animals, the potential drug would only attack the fungus.

Deleting the Ssk1 gene from Candida albicans helps the “triazole” drugs, now used to treat these types of diseases, work more effectively. “This allows the triazole drugs to do their job,” Richard Calderone, Ph.D., lead author of the study and a professor and chair of the department of microbiology and immunology at GUMC, was quoted as saying. “We propose that this finding might lead to other, possibly more effective, treatment options.”

SOURCE: Presented October 27, 2008 at the 48th Annual Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy/46th Annual Meeting of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (ICAAC/IDSA) in Washington, DC.
 
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