Chemotherapy and organ transplantation not only take a huge toll on patients, but they can compromise the immune system and leave patients vulnerable to infections from microbes such as pathogenic fungi--the fastest-growing cause of hospital-acquired infections. Now researchers from Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research have discovered one possible reason why these fungal microbes are such a scourge.
According to the research appearing in the August 7 online edition of the journal Nature Genetics, fungal microbes can quickly alter the appearance of their cell surfaces, their "skin," disguising themselves in order to slip past the immune systems vigilant defenses. And, for all the worlds brewers, the study also helps explain why certain beers are cloudy and others are clear.
"Its all about skin," says Whitehead Member Gerald Fink, who compares the fungal microbe to an M&M--a sugar coating encasing the cells DNA. "The skin of fungi microbes is what enables them to stick to your organs, and thus become pathogenic. It also enables the fungi to stick together, which is desirable for fermentation in beer."
David Cameron | EurekAlert!
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