The study learned more about the production of a certain fungal toxin and could lead to improved treatments for associated diseases.
An international team of researchers have uncovered new findings into a type of deadly fungus that can cause various diseases in humans.
This fungus – Aspergillus fumigatus – generally causes diseases in individuals undergoing cancer treatments and organ transplants, as well as those with cystic fibrosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). It is listed in the “critical priority group” of significant health-threatening fungal pathogens by the World Health Organization.
The issues that this fungus can cause are collectively known as aspergillosis, with most of these diseases affecting the lungs.
The new study sheds light on the intricate mechanisms surrounding this fungus, with a focus on its crucial role of producing gliotoxin. This is a form of mycotoxin – toxin produced by funghi – that helps this fungus kill human immune cells.
The international study is lead by Dr Özgür Bayram of Maynooth University and Prof Gustavo Goldman of the University of São Paulo. Bayram said this collaboration has led to “high-impact research on revealing the pathogenic traits” of this fungus.
“Our work not only unravels the complex interplay of molecular actors within Aspergillus fumigatus but also underscores the importance of understanding these mechanisms for potential therapeutic interventions against aspergillosis,” Bayram said.
The study suggests a certain protein kinase called MpkA plays a crucial role in the production and the self-protection mechanism of gliotoxin. It is hoped that these findings will further our understanding of fungal pathogens and boost methods to tackle diseases caused by the deadly fungus.
“The newfound knowledge might lay the foundation for a treatment targeting aspergillus infections in patients,” Bayram said. “Such a breakthrough could have profound implications for individuals undergoing cancer treatments, organ transplants, those with cystic fibrosis and those managing COPD.”
Last year, Rebecca A Drummond, associate professor at the University of Birmingham, spoke about the risks of funghi and how the number of people becoming ill with serious fungal infections has been steadily rising over the last half century.
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