New drug target emerges for a dangerous fungal pathogen

February 7, 2018, Stony Brook University

Cryptococcus neoformans is a fungal pathogen usually affecting immunocompromised patients, particularly AIDS and organ transplant patients, and is one that can be lethal. Current treatments against cryptococcosis are often not effective. Now a team of researchers led by Stony Brook University scientists Mansa Munshi and Maurizio Del Poeta in the Department of Molecular Genetics & Microbiology, have discovered a novel gene that helps understand the mechanism of survival of this pathogen in various host conditions.

Their finding, published in Cell Reports , may help pave the way for more effective and innovative treatments against cryptococcosis.

When C. neoformans survives in a host, disease results. In the paper, the team details how they uncovered that ceramides (a class of lipid molecules) play a role in the pathogenicity of C. neoformans. They identified a new gene within this process, called Cer1, which synthesizes ceremides. By targeting Cer1, pathogenicity in the host is altered.

Munshi and colleagues delete Cer1 from the pathogen, and a mutant form of C. neoformans is created that is completely disabled and unable to cause disease. These results have led the team to theorize that Cer1 may be a new drug target in the search for better treatments of cryptococcosis.

Explore further: Environmental pressures on opportunistic fungal pathogen

More information: The Role of Ceramide Synthases in the Pathogenicity of Cryptococcus neoformans. Cell Reports. DOI: doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2018.01.035 |

Related Stories

Environmental pressures on opportunistic fungal pathogen

June 13, 2017
With an estimated one million cases diagnosed worldwide each year, the human pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans, which can cause life-threatening fungal infections in immunocompromised patients, is an important health concern. ...

Angina drug could inform a new strategy to fight cryptococcosis

June 7, 2016
A drug, more commonly used in the treatment of angina, could be the focus of a new strategy in fighting the fatal fungal infection cryptococcosis.

New study targets lethal fungal infection

July 24, 2017
The development of new drugs to fight a common fungal pathogen which kills half a million people globally each year is a step closer thanks to a University of Queensland-led study.

Recommended for you

How long is an Ebola survivor contagious? One case is causing scientists to rethink the answer.

August 14, 2018
Surviving Ebola isn't like getting over the flu.

Why do women get more migraines?

August 14, 2018
Research published today reveals a potential mechanism for migraine causation which could explain why women get more migraines than men. The study, in Frontiers in Molecular Biosciences, suggests that sex hormones affect ...

Link between common 'harmless' virus and cardiovascular damage

August 13, 2018
Researchers from Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS) have found an unexpectedly close link between a herpes virus and the occurrence of immune cells damaging cardiovascular tissue.

Rotavirus vaccine cuts infant diarrhoea deaths by a third in Malawi

August 11, 2018
A major new study has shown that rotavirus vaccination reduced infant diarrhoea deaths by 34% in rural Malawi, a region with high levels of child deaths.

Experts highlight Ebola vaccine progress and suggest next steps

August 11, 2018
Despite promising advances, important scientific questions remain unanswered in the effort to develop a safe and effective Ebola vaccine, according to members of an international Ebola research consortium. In a Viewpoint ...

Ebola virus experts discover powerful, new approach for future therapeutics

August 9, 2018
A one-two punch of powerful antibodies may be the best way to stop Ebola virus, reports an international team of scientists in the journal Cell. Their findings suggest new therapies should disable Ebola virus's infection ...

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.