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Scientists Shed Light on Fungus Behind Deadly Pneumonia Strain

FRIDAY, Dec. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers report that they've sequenced the genome of a fungus called Pneumocystis jirovecii, potentially laying the groundwork for new ways to treat a strain of pneumonia that can kill people with weakened immune systems.

The strain is known as Pneumocystis pneumonia. First noticed among malnourished babies, it gained attention during the AIDS epidemic because it struck HIV-infected patients. It also strikes other patients whose immune systems don't work properly, such as those who receive organ transplants, are undergoing treatment for blood cancer or have autoimmune disorders.

The sequencing of the genome revealed that the fungus is a parasite that must live within the human body to survive. "This has been quite an important finding which implied that human beings represent the reservoir of this pathogen," study co-author Philippe Hauser of the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois and University of Lausanne in Switzerland, said in a news release from the American Society for Microbiology.

The study appears in the Dec. 26 issue of the online journal mBio.

More information

For more about pneumonia, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

-- Randy Dotinga

SOURCE: American Society for Microbiology, news release, Dec. 26, 2012

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