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New approach to combating Candida albicans infection

View:91 Time:2017-06-16

Described in the journal Nature Communications, a study reports a new way to combat fungal infections. The finding is significant because severe fungal infections afflict approximately 2 million people in the world annually, leading to 8,000 deaths per year.

An increase in drug-resistant fungal strains has led to a desperate need for novel antifungal therapies. The new study, led by investigators from the Université de Grenoble Alpes in France and University of Southern California in the USA, shows that a protein called Bdf1 is essential in the fungal pathogen, Candida albicans. Additionally, inactivation or deletion of Bdf1 reduces the capability of C. albicans to cause infection in mice. Therefore, targeting Bdf1 might provide a therapeutic approach to fighting C. albicans infection.

C. albicans is a common human fungal pathogen that is found in more than 70% of the population. It is an opportunistic pathogen -- in healthy people, it usually remains harmless, whereas in susceptible people such as those with cancer, HIV or autoimmune disorders, it can cause invasive candidiasis, whose mortality is 30-40%.

The protein Bdf1 has been identified as a transcriptional regulator in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, a yeast well known for its use in the bread and wine industries. In the current study, the investigators studied the role of Bdf1 in C. albicans. They found that Bdf1 is important for the growth of C. albicans. Mutations that abolish Bdf1 activity severely compromise fungal growth in vitro.

Next, the investigators used a mouse model of invasive candidiasis to confirm the findings. The results showed that the fungal load in mice injected with wild-type C. albicans was higher than in mouse injected with Bdf1 deletion strain, suggesting that Bdf1 activity is important for the virulence of C. albicans in vivo.

Finally, they identified a dibenzothiazepinone compound that can selectively inhibit Bdf1 function. The compound showed antifungal activity against certain C. albicans strains. Importantly, proper concentration of the compound only caused little cytotoxicity to mammalian cells.

Overall, the study underscores the important role of Bdf1 in the pathogen C. albicans and suggests Bdf1 inhibition as a potential treatment strategy for C. albicans infection.

CusAb provides Bdf1 recombinant protein for researchers.
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