Although people expect to go to the hospital to be treated for their illnesses, sometimes patients can acquire fungal infections during treatment that can make them even sicker. The fungus Candida albicans is a common hospital-acquired fungus that can get into the bloodstream and vital organs, leading to a mortality rate of up to 75% of infected patients. Researchers at The Ohio State University in Columbus have found a potential approach to fight these infections.
The new approach, identified by researchers from The Ohio State University, is able to use genes in the human body to fight these infections, leading to the possibility of gene-based treatments for fungal infections.
Lead researcher Jian Zhang explained that: “Catheterized patients – especially those with cancer who receive chemotherapy and those with an organ transplant who receive immunosuppressive treatment – are highly susceptible to these infections, which can be lethal. We’ve found a potential way to manipulate the immune system to treat invasive, life-threatening cases that are resistant to treatment."
Previous research showed that the gene CBLB played a role in controlling fungal infections. Through tests in both mice and petri dish human cells, the Columbus research team learned that CBLB is responsible for targeting two dectin proteins that are involved in starting an immune response when the fungus is recognized in the cell. However, in sick patients, CBLB causes the immune response to be much weaker than is needed to fight the infection.
Research from this study was published in the journal Nature Medicine.
(Image courtesy of Michael Barera via Wikimedia Commons)
This kind of ground-breaking research is possible because The Ohio State University is a highly ranked research institution in terms of amount of funding received and research published and produced. In the 2015 fiscal year, the university received more than $136 million in funding from the NIH. Departments at the Ohio State University receiving substantial amounts of this funding include:
- Internal Medicine/Medicine - $42.7 million
- Microbiology/Immunology/Virology - $17.5 million
- Public Health and Preventative Medicine - $5.4 million
- Phsyiology - $5 million
- Chemistry - $4.3 million
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