A newly discovered mechanism by which an infectious fungus evades the immune system could lead to novel methods to fight the fungus and other disease-causing microbes, according to Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigators at Duke University Medical Center.
Joseph Heitman, M.D., Ph.D.
Disruption of a key enzyme in the fungus Cryptococcus neoformans -- a common cause of infection of the central nervous system in patients such as organ transplant recipients who lack a functioning immune system -- led to a significant loss of fungal virulence in mice, the team found. That loss of virulence stemmed from the funguss inability to launch a counterattack against components of the innate immune system, the bodys first line of defense against infection, the study showed.
The Duke-based team -- led by HHMI geneticist Joseph Heitman, M.D., director of Dukes Center for Microbial Pathogenesis, and HHMI biochemist Jonathan Stamler, M.D. -- reported their findings in the Nov. 11, 2003, issue of Current Biology. The work was funded by the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the Burroughs Wellcome Fund.
Kendall Morgan | dukemed news
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