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Tracking down pathogenic yeasts
Date:9/28/2010

This release is available in German.

More than half of all people are hosts to Candida albicans in their bodies. This species might be located on their skin or mucous membranes or in the intestines frequently without causing any symptoms. However, it can be dangerous to patients whose immunological system has been weakened such as after organ transplants or chemotherapy with cancer. Then, this fungus penetrates into deeper layers of tissue and uses the blood system to spread throughout the body. In Germany alone, several thousand people die from systemic candida infections every year.

But why does Candida albicans become lethal to people? Which genes are active in the pathogenic state? Are there any interactions between the host and the fungus? What protective mechanisms might prevent the pathogenic state in humans? Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology (IGB) in Stuttgart, Germany, asked themselves these and other questions applying pioneering sequencing technology.

This technology is a real game-changer because it can be automated and it greatly accelerates the analysis of genotypes. A case in point is decoding a person's genome and determining the sequence of bases of DNA, which can now be done within a couple weeks. As a comparison, five large-scale research centers with 150 coworkers have been working at sequencing the human genome for seven years, and the Humane Genome Project cost approximately $3 billion. The sequence of the approximately 3 million bases of the human genome was made public in 2001.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology have been taking advantage of this cutting-edge sequencing technology to find out which genes play a role in causing the disease to break out with the fungus and the host. Resea
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Contact: Christian Grumaz
christian.grumaz@igb.fraunhofer.de
49-711-970-4171
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft
Source:Eurekalert  

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