Fungal infections (mycoses) were once seen as exotic diseases, but this is changing rapidly. Although rarely life-threatening in healthy patients, fungal infections are a major problem for the immunocompromised, including HIV patients and people receiving chemotherapy for cancer. Treatment is becoming difficult due to fungal resistance to the antifungal therapy, the variety of disease-causing fungi found and the toxic effects of conventional therapy.
Now, scientists believe gamma interferon, a protein molecule produced by human cells in response to infections, may help to fight fungal infections. “Immune cells called neutrophils are rapidly recruited to the site of infection and play an essential role in fungal killing,” say Drs. Javier Capilla, Karl Clemons and David Stevens, of Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, Stanford Medical School and the California Institute for Medical Research. “Gamma interferon enhances the mechanisms of these cells to make them more potent killers of fungi.”
Tests on many fungal infections, including blastomycosis, candidosis and aspergillosis have shown that gamma interferon has beneficial effects in terms of the reduction of the fungus in the organs and on animal survival. But according to Dr Stevens, interferon is not the only answer. “Therapy using gamma interferon alone has failed to clear the fungus completely from infected tissues but it has great potential to add to conventional therapy.”
“When gamma interferon was given to mice infected with Cryptococcus along with amphotericin B, a standard antifungal treatment, the rate of cure was significantly higher than using one therapy alone. We need to look at the route of administration, the frequency of dosing and the dosage given before we can determine fully the use of gamma interferon as an adjunctive therapy.”
There is still work to be done. “We explored the possibility of using gene therapy for delivering gamma interferon into the nervous system to combat fungal meningitis. Studies of this type suggest a potential clinical use for specific gamma interferon gene therapy in the future. Treatment with gamma-interferon offers a new additional approach to treatment and it provides a new approach to treating difficult diseases. However, clinical trials must document the benefit for patients” says Dr Stevens.
Other features in the November 2007 issue of Microbiology Today include:
•Comment: Microbiology – a degree of concern (page 200)
These are just some of the articles that appear, together with all the regular features and reports of Society activities.
Lucy Goodchild | alfa
Plankton swim against the current
12.12.2017 | Schweizerischer Nationalfonds SNF
To differentiate or not to differentiate?
12.12.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biologie des Alterns
Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.
To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...
The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.
Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...
With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong
Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...
An interdisciplinary group of researchers interfaced individual bacteria with a computer to build a hybrid bio-digital circuit - Study published in Nature Communications
Scientists at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria) have managed to control the behavior of individual bacteria by connecting them to a...
Physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (run jointly by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics) have developed an attosecond electron microscope that allows them to visualize the dispersion of light in time and space, and observe the motions of electrons in atoms.
The most basic of all physical interactions in nature is that between light and matter. This interaction takes place in attosecond times (i.e. billionths of a...
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
07.12.2017 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
11.12.2017 | Earth Sciences
11.12.2017 | Information Technology