Growing Advance In Fungal Research

Wednesday, 01 November, 2000

Research into combating opportunistic virulent fungal infections in both patients with acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) and diabetes has led to the identification of Candida glabrata as the culprit responsible for eight per cent of all hospital-acquired infections.

Mohammed Kamran at London's Hammersmith Hospital, West London, has found that the mucosal and systemic infection is the second most common cause of fungal infections, such as thrush, and account for 20 per cent of all cases.

"The two most commonly encountered species are Candida glabrata and albicans," said Mr Kamran. "Effective drugs can treat the latter but C. glabrata is much more difficult causing infections in humans that range from superficial to life threatening."

Mr Kamran has developed the tools and protocol for a signature-tagged mutagenesis (STM) of C. glabrata and established an insertional library of 10,000 of the mutants. It is the first step towards tackling the infection. He added: "C. glabrata has been poorly studied at the molecular level and little is known about its patho-biology or its ability to be highly resistant to many of the available anti-fungal azole drugs.

"We intend using the STM technique to identify the genes that are important in causing the disease and also those that confer drug resistance in C. glabrata. It is anticipated that this may lead to the identification of novel drug targets, possibly allowing development of more robust anti-fungal drugs.

"Genes in which insertions lead to interesting phenotypes will be cloned. By in-vitro and in-vivo genome screening we hope to identify a number of novel genes that are associated with the virulence of the opportunistic fungal pathogen and develop a drug to treat it," he said.

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