Grant award for First Study of Emerging Yeast Species
An emerging species of yeast, Candida parapsilosis is causing increasing numbers of infections because it spreads easily from medical devices into the blood stream of patients. Science Foundation Ireland has recently awarded almost €1 million to Dr. Geraldine Butler of the Conway Institute of Biomolecular and Biomedical Research, Dublin for her pioneering studies of this yeast.
As the yeast grows on the plastic surface of catheters, heart valves or intravenous lines, it forms a thin film called a biofilm, which is difficult to destroy even with antifungal drugs. Infection with yeast can be life threatening in newborn babies, the elderly or any patient whose immune system is not strong enough to fight the bacteria. In many cases, the only treatment choice involves first removing the medical device itself.
Up until now the majority of research has focused on Candida albicans but a recent worldwide study has shown that almost half of all yeast infections are caused by other species of yeast. As the first research group to study C. parapsilosis at a detailed molecular level, Dr. Butler and her team will first try to uncover the genetic makeup of this yeast and then use this information to design in-house genetic techniques to investigate how the yeast grows on the surfaces of medical devices.
Dr. Geraldine Butler hopes that the research carried out over next the four years under funding from Science Foundation Ireland will “increase the current understanding of the organism and develop potential drug targets”.
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