Fungal infections can be deadly as fungus germs have developed resistance to drug treatment. But now researchers have found a way to make drugs more effective in clearing all fungal infections.
Led by Toronto University professor Leah Cowen, an international team has discovered that the fungal pathogen or germ called Candida albicans, resists drug treatment because of an associated protein called heat shock protein 90 or Hsp90.
Candida albicans can cause from superficial infections such as yeast infections to life-threatening infections in the bloodstream.
These fungal infections can be deadly for people with compromised immune systems, such as AIDS patients or those undergoing treatment for cancer or organ transplantation.
Doctors say Candida albicans are the fourth leading cause of hospital acquired infectious diseases.
But the researchers have now found a way to fight fungal infections by knock out its associate protein, a Toronto University statement said Friday.
The researchers say that compromising Hsp90 protein makes the fungal-fighting drugs (known as echinocandins) more effective in killing fungal germs or Candida albicans.
“Our results suggest that interfering with Hsp90 function provides a powerful and much-needed strategy to render existing antifungal drugs more effective in the treatment of life-threatening fungal infections,” the statement quoted Cowen as saying.
The researchers discovered that impairing the function of germs’ protein Hsp90 by using potent drugs or genetic techniques made the fungus much more prone to killing by echinocandins.
They said this strategy was found effective in both lab experiments and mouse models.
The researchers said treating patients with a drug that inhibits Hsp90 along with an echinocandin will have major benefits for people with life-threatening fungal disease.
The study was published Friday in the journal PLoS Pathogens.