Fighting fungal infections with bacteria

May 01, 2010
This is a confocal microscope image of fungal biofilm without (left) or with (right) treatment by bacteria. Credit: Gordon McAlester

A bacterial pathogen can communicate with yeast to block the development of drug-resistant yeast infections, say Irish scientists writing in the May issue of Microbiology. The research could be a step towards new strategies to prevent hospital-acquired infections associated with medical implants.

Researchers from University College Cork in Ireland studied the interaction between the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which is often associated with severe burns, and the yeast Candida albicans, which can grow on plastic surfaces such as catheters. Both microbes are very common and although they are normally harmless to healthy individuals, they can cause disease in immunocompromised people.

The team discovered that molecules produced by P. aeruginosa bacteria were able to hinder the development of C. albicans 'biofilms' on silicone, when the clump together on the surface of the plastic. Interestingly, the interaction between the two organisms did not depend on the well-studied bacterial communication system called Quorum Sensing, indicating that a novel signalling mechanism was at play.

C. albicans is the most common hospital-acquired and can cause illness by sticking to and colonising plastic surfaces implanted in the body such as , cardiac devices or prosthetic joints. This biofilm formation is a key aspect of C. albicans infection and is problematic as biofilms are often resistant to the antibiotics used to treat them. Dr John Morrissey, who led the team of researchers, said, "Candida albicans can cause very serious deep infections in susceptible patients and it is often found in biofilm form. It is therefore important to understand the biofilm process and how it might be controlled."

Dr Morrissey believes his work may lead to significant clinical benefits. "If we can exploit the same inhibitory strategy that the bacterium P. aeruginosa uses, then we might be able to design drugs that can be used as antimicrobials to disperse yeast biofilms after they form, or as additives onto plastics to prevent biofilm formation on ," he said. "The next steps are to identify the chemical that the bacterium produces and to find out what its target in the is. We can then see whether this will be a feasible lead for the development of new drugs for clinical application."

Explore further: Researchers successfully clone adult human stem cells

Provided by Society for General Microbiology

5 /5 (1 vote)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

No hiding place for infecting bacteria

Mar 16, 2009

Scientists in Colorado have discovered a new approach to prevent bacterial infections from taking hold. Writing in the Journal of Medical Microbiology, Dr Quinn Parks and colleagues describe how they used enzymes against produc ...

Bacteria 'launch a shield' to resist attack

Nov 02, 2009

Bacteria that cause chronic lung infections can communicate with each other to form a deadly shield against the body's natural defenses. Studying these interactions could lead to new ways of treating bacteria that are resistant ...

New Way to Fight Fungal Infection

Jun 23, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- A team of researchers led by Amy G. Hise, M.D., M.P.H., assistant professor at the Center for Global Health and Diseases at Case Western Reserve University's School of Medicine, has discovered how the body ...

Recommended for you

Researchers successfully clone adult human stem cells

21 hours ago

(Phys.org) —An international team of researchers, led by Robert Lanza, of Advanced Cell Technology, has announced that they have performed the first successful cloning of adult human skin cells into stem ...

Researchers develop new model of cellular movement

Apr 18, 2014

(Phys.org) —Cell movement plays an important role in a host of biological functions from embryonic development to repairing wounded tissue. It also enables cancer cells to break free from their sites of ...

For resetting circadian rhythms, neural cooperation is key

Apr 17, 2014

Fruit flies are pretty predictable when it comes to scheduling their days, with peaks of activity at dawn and dusk and rest times in between. Now, researchers reporting in the Cell Press journal Cell Reports on April 17th h ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Researchers successfully clone adult human stem cells

(Phys.org) —An international team of researchers, led by Robert Lanza, of Advanced Cell Technology, has announced that they have performed the first successful cloning of adult human skin cells into stem ...

Plants with dormant seeds give rise to more species

Seeds that sprout as soon as they're planted may be good news for a garden. But wild plants need to be more careful. In the wild, a plant whose seeds sprouted at the first warm spell or rainy day would risk disaster. More ...

Health care site flagged in Heartbleed review

People with accounts on the enrollment website for President Barack Obama's signature health care law are being told to change their passwords following an administration-wide review of the government's vulnerability to the ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.