Researchers find quick candida test

August 2, 2011

A team led by a Massey University researcher has developed a diagnostic tool that could save the lives of some of the 60 people estimated to die each year in New Zealand from the fungal infection candidemia – and thousands of such patients worldwide.

Dr. Jan Schmid, a senior lecturer in microbiology within the Institute of Molecular Biosciences BioMedical Research group, has discovered a particular strain of Candida albicans, a yeast infection, which is twice as likely to lead to death in young immuno-compromised patients such as prematurely born infants.

“Candidemia is a disease that is time-consuming and difficult to diagnose,” Dr. Schmid says. “It affects patients, who are already quite sick, and by the time it is diagnosed through blood analysis it is often too late.”

Dr. Schmid’s team discovered a Candida genotype that is more virulent in young patients. “We analysed a strain collection in Italy with mortality data from patients,” he says. “What we found is that young patients with this particular genotype were twice as likely to die from candidemia.”

From that, a PCR assay – a that can identify the genotype – was developed.

“The assay can be utilised as a risk management tool for compromised patients who are susceptible to candidemia,” Dr. Schmid says. “It can identify, in advance, patients who are more likely to die from the infection than other patients.”

Those patients could then be treated preventatively with anti-fungal drugs.

“Anti-fungal drugs are not very good for people, especially for patients who are already compromised. Plus their frequent use leads to drug-resistant strains. So using them prophylactically on all patients at risk from candidemia is not recommended,” he says. “With this test, clinicians can easily identify those patients who would most benefit from prophylactic anti-fungal treatment.”

The incidence of life-threatening blood-borne infections of immune-compromised patients with Candida yeasts has increased 10-fold in New Zealand over the past 20 years.

“Candidemia is the most common we see in our hospitals and our calculations suggest it may kill as many as 60 New Zealanders each year,” Dr. Schmid says. “Based on the number of cases last year, and the recorded increase in the length of hospital stays, these infections may cost the New Zealand health system as much as $18m annually.”

Dr. Schmid’s research team included other researchers at the institute, and researchers from Italy and Sweden. The research was published in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology.

Explore further: Kids born with HIV growing up well

Related Stories

Kids born with HIV growing up well

April 21, 2011
(PhysOrg.com) -- Once facing an almost certain death sentence, most children born with HIV are now faring well into adolescence and adulthood, according to a newly published study co-authored by Tulane infectious diseases ...

Recommended for you

Urine test developed to test for tuberculosis

December 14, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—An international team of researchers has developed a urine test that can be used to detect tuberculosis (TB) in human patients. In their paper published in Science Translational Medicine, the group describes ...

40 years after first Ebola outbreak, survivors show signs they can stave off new infection

December 14, 2017
Survivors of the first known Ebola outbreak, which occurred in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1976, may be key to development of vaccines and therapeutic drugs to treat future outbreaks, according to a new study ...

Lactic acid bacteria can protect against Influenza A virus, study finds

December 13, 2017
Lactic acid bacteria, commonly used as probiotics to improve digestive health, can offer protection against different subtypes of influenza A virus, resulting in reduced weight loss after virus infection and lower amounts ...

Aging impairs innate immune response to flu

December 13, 2017
Aging impairs the immune system's response to the flu virus in multiple ways, weakening resistance in older adults, according to a Yale study. The research reveals why older people are at increased risk of illness and death ...

Lyme bacteria survive 28-day course of antibiotics months after infection

December 13, 2017
Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading sponsor of Lyme disease research in the US, today announced results of two papers published in the peer-reviewed journals PLOS ONE and American Journal of Pathology, that seem to support ...

Drug blocks Zika, other mosquito-borne viruses in cell cultures

December 12, 2017
If there was a Mafia crime family of the virus world, it might be flaviviruses.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.