Although Candida albicans is a yeast fungus that is relatively easy to treat with fungicides it is increasingly being replaced, after treatment, by the more resistant Candida glabrata. Candida glabrata is common in humans, usually on the skin where it does little harm. But if it enters the blood system, it can be directly life threatening to people with poor immune defence, such as cancer and AIDS patients.
Professor Jure Piškur of the Department of Cell and Organism Biology at the Lund University in Sweden has discovered that Candida glabrata can mutate surprisingly rapidly by reorganising its chromosomes and making extra copies of large chromosome pieces.
As a result Candida glabrata can survive ten times the normal dose of the fungicide fluconazole. However, Professor Piškur stresses that people whose immune defence is normal run very little risk of being affected by this life-threatening form of fungal infection in the blood system.
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First Published in June 2009
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