Israeli Scientists Work Towards Curbing Candida
Candidiasis is a widespread fungal infection caused by a yeast (a type of fungus) called Candida, and the most common type is Candida albicans. It normally lives in small amounts on the skin and inside the body – in the mouth, throat, gut and vagina – without causing any problems.
The yeast is present at low levels in the bodies of most healthy people, forming part of the microbiome – a diverse spectrum of microbes that reside peacefully in the gut and on the skin. The bacteria living on and inside the body combined with the efforts of the immune system help keep Candida populations under control.
However, this distant cousin of baker’s yeast is notorious for causing various types of thrush that can be a major nuisance. An overgrowth of the fungus can be painful, itchy, annoying and even – in extreme cases – be deadly. In these severe cases, it can spread to the bloodstream and from there to the kidneys. Such life-threating infections may occur when a person’s immune system has been weakened, for example, by AIDS or by immunosuppressive drugs such as cancer chemotherapy or steroids.
In a study published on Monday, June 27, in the prestigious journal Nature Immunology, a research team at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot headed by Prof. Jakub Abramson uncovered a previously unknown defense mechanism employed by the immune system in fighting Candida infections.
These findings open up new directions of research that in the future could help develop new treatments for severe Candida and possibly for other fungal infections. The newly discovered mechanism might, for example, help produce large numbers of Candida-fighting T cells to be used in cell therapy. And if one day, scientists identify the signals by which Aire-ILC3s boost T cell proliferation, these signals themselves might provide the basis for new therapies. (JPost / VFI News)
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