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Newly identified yeast could prevent fungal infections by outcompeting rivals, study suggests

Date: 22.3.2024 

Researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel have identified a yeast that could be used to prevent invasive candidiasis, a major cause of death in hospitalized and immunocompromised patients. The study shows that the novel yeast lives harmlessly in the intestines of mice and humans and can displace the yeast responsible for candidiasis, Candida albicans.

Kredit: Sekeresova Kralova et al. (2024), Journal of Experimental Medicine.The yeast may penetrate the intestinal barrier and systemically infect the blood or internal organs. This dangerous condition, known as invasive candidiasis, is commonly seen in health care environments, particularly in immunocompromised patients, with mortality rates of up to 25%.

While studying yeast infections in laboratory mice, Steffen Jung and colleagues at the Weizmann Institute discovered that some of their mice carried a novel species of yeast that prevented the animals from being infected with C. albicans. The new species, which the researchers named Kazachstania weizmannii, is closely related to yeast associated with sourdough production and appears to live innocuously in the intestines of mice, even when the animals are immunosuppressed.

The researchers found that K. weizmannii can outcompete C. albicans for its place within the gut, reducing the population of C. albicans in mouse intestines. Moreover, while C. albicans can cross the intestinal barrier and spread to other organs in immunosuppressed mice, the presence of K. weizmannii in the animals' drinking water significantly delayed the onset of invasive candidiasis.

Image source: Sekeresova Kralova et al. (2024), Journal of Experimental Medicine.





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