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Starving fungus can help beat drug-resistant fungal infection

ANI 

Fungus that causes infection and is increasingly resistant to medicine, can be treated by starving it, researchers suggest.

To treat Candida albicans, a common fungus/yeast that can cause illness in those with weakened immune systems, researchers limited the fungus' access to iron, an element crucial to the organism's survival.

They did so by using deferasirox, a medication used to treat blood disorders. Tested in mice, the results were promising.

Currently, only three major classes of clinical antifungal drugs exist. However, fungal drug resistance has steadily increased and no new classes of antifungals have emerged in decades, according to the study published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.

Candida albicans, a fungus behind a number of infections including oral thrush, a yeast infection in the mouth identified by a white film that coats the tongue and throat, causing painful swallowing; and denture-related stomatitis.

The yeast is also the fourth leading cause of hospital-acquired bloodstream infections, which often have high mortality rates.

Candida albicans is the most abundant fungus in the oral microbiome and relies heavily on saliva as a source for essential elements. Iron, the second most abundant metal in saliva, is a critical nutrient used by the fungus in several cellular processes, including energy production and DNA repair.

In mice, researchers added deferasirox to drinking water to lower iron levels in saliva and reduce the availability of iron needed to sustain an infection.

The investigators found that Candida albicans in the mice who received the treatment were less likely to survive attacks by the immune system, subsisting at a 12 per cent survival rate compared to a 25 per cent survival rate in mice who did not receive the treatment.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sun, May 26 2019. 22:15 IST
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