Fungal Research Tries To Surf MRSA Wave

Here’s a confusing press release from the University of Gothenburg. Researcher Jonas Warringer is trying to find ways to slow the rate of genetic adaptation in certain microbes down to keep them from evolving resistance to antibiotics. But look at this (and I translate):

Slowed-down evolution can counteract antibiotic resistance

The resistance of an infectious agent against antibiotics is particularly serious when it comes to drugs made from fungi, penicillin for instance. Fungal cells are similar to human ones, which makes it hard to develop drugs that hit fungal cells (and are effective) but leave human cells unharmed (thus avoiding side effects).

Evolution creates random variations in the traits of an organism, which shows in infectious agents as an improved resistance against the drugs they encounter. In the end we get completely resistant fungal strains — and the drug becomes ineffective.

What the press release fails to mention is that we usually use antibiotics against bacterial infections, not fungal ones. The research reported on is in fact irrelevant to the much-publicised concerns about MRSA and other bacterial strains that have evolved resistance to antibiotics. Looks like an attempt to ride the publicity wave of a separate issue.

Bruce Chatwin did have fungal trouble, though. Check out my homage.

Comments

  1. #1 Whitecoat Tales
    October 28, 2009

    It certainly seems like an attempt to ride the wave. Although honestly, fungal infections deserve a little more press and research, as we get more immunocompromised people (read:HIV, transplant, etc) we have more and more people contractig serious fungal infections. Right now we have very few agents to go with, – the -conazoles, flucytosine, and amphotericin which has so many side effects it’s like playing russion roullette with your organs.

  2. #2 greg zurbay
    October 29, 2009

    Kind Dr. Martin R.,

    I think you might be in error. The argument of the release as I see it is, #1 — if you can retard the rate of adaptation to resistance you go quite a distance to decreasing the resistance problem. #2 — To this end you would like to attack the microbes ( bacteria in general ) with a compound that will completely kill all the bacteria. #3 — When this compound is sourced from a fungus – it would be very likely the compound made by the fungus to protect itself would likely ( more of the time ) also have side effects to humans, ( because fungus and humans are similar in DNA. ) It is also the case that it is difficult to kill a fungus w/o harming the human, because of the similar DNA.

    I am no expert, and if mistaken will happily stand corrected.