Home / Science / Health /  Newly identified gene could be clue to treatment of fungal infection in immuno-compromised patients

NEW DELHI : A newly identified gene can hold the key to prevent fungal infection Candidiasis that often affects intensive-care unit (ICU) patients, cancer patients and patients receiving immunosuppressive therapy, the ministry of science and technology said on Thursday. 

The gene called CSA6 has been identified in Candida albicans, a fungal species infamous for causing high rates of morbidity and mortality under certain immuno-compromised conditions such as AIDS or during cancer treatment. 

“The fungal species residing in mucosal linings of the gastrointestinal and urogenital tract of healthy individuals turns into a pathogen under immuno-compromised conditions breaching the host defense causing superficial as well as life-threatening systemic infection," said the government. 

In a recent collaborative study between Professor Kaustuv Sanyal’s group at Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), Bangalore, India and Christophe d’Enfert’s group at Institut Pasteur, Paris, France carried out a large-scale screen to identify regulators of chromosome stability in C. albicans, a clinically relevant fungal model system.

“The authors from JNCASR, an autonomous institute of Department of Science and Technology (DST), individually screened the effect of overexpression of more than a thousand genes of C. albicans on genome stability and were successful in identifying a set of six chromosome stability (CSA) genes that are important for maintaining genome integrity. While five of the CSA genes identified in the study are known to be important for cell division in other species, the sixth CSA gene, named CSA6 encoded for a protein that is essential for viability in C. albicans. They found that Csa6 was a critical regulator of cell cycle progression wherein both overexpression and deletion of Csa6 lead to reduced growth of C. albicans cells," the government said. 

The study published in the journal Nature Communications represents the first-ever report of such an extensive screen in the human fungal pathogen C. albicans. It identifies and elucidates the functions of a novel regulator of chromosome stability that is exclusively present in a group of medically relevant human fungal pathogens. Besides, it also provides a systematic scheme for identifying genes whose products may serve as potential therapeutic interventions for fungal infections by posing lesser adverse effects on humans. Hence, small molecule modulators that alter expression levels of the gene called Csa6 offer potential avenues for treatment with no side effects in humans.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Priyanka Sharma

Priyanka Shamra is a health and pharma journalist with nearly nine years of field reporting experience. She is a special correspondent with Mint. Her beat includes covering the Ministry of Health and Department of Pharmaceuticals. She also covers the Ministry of Women and Child Development and the Department of Biotechnology.
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