(June 7, 2010)--UTSA researchers are learning more about a fungus that can prove fatal for individuals with weakened immune systems.
Although the fungus Candida albicans is most often associated with superficial yeast infections, it also is extremely dangerous and a leading cause of hospital-acquired infections in the United States. Very often, those hospital-based infections are associated with the formation of biofilms or communities of microbes found on the surface of catheters, shunts and other medical devices inside patients. The biofilms promote infection by giving a fungus a safe place from which it can invade tissue, start new infection sites and resist treatment efforts.
Funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act 2009, members of the South Texas Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases, Jose Lopez-Ribot, UTSA professor of microbiology, and Anand Ramasubramanian, UTSA assistant professor of biomedical engineering, are closely studying the life cycle of C. albicans in studies spearheaded by Priya Uppuluri, a talented postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory. Collaborators include the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and Children's Hospital in Boston.
In their research, the scientists used advanced modeling techniques to learn that the fungus continuously disperses to establish new sites of infection. That dispersal is regulated at the molecular level and is dependent upon environmental cues such as the availability of a carbon source and the pH of the biofilm's environment. Moreover, the cells dispersed from biofilms are more virulent than regular cells.
Ultimately, the findings are an important step in curbing candidiasis, an infection with a 30-50 percent mortality rate in patients with compromised immune systems.
"Candida infections are difficult to treat, extremely serious and often fatal," said Lopez-Ribot. "If we can uncover the factors the fungus is dependent upon to survive and proliferate, we can begin to develop treatments that will prevent the spread of the infection."
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act 2009 is an economic recovery package adopted to help states stabilize budgets and stimulate economic growth. Stimulus funding will be allocated, in part, to modernize health care, improve schools, modernize infrastructure and invest in the clean energy technologies of the future.
The annual Center for Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship (CITE) 100K Venture Competition and Exposition will be held on the Main Campus on Dec. 1. Twenty-eight teams from across the university will exhibit their project; six teams will compete for a prize pool of more than $100,000 in funding to launch their new venture / company. More than 650 students have participated in launching new technology ventures.
Biotechnology, Sciences and Engineering (BSE 2.102), Main Campus
This concert features 50 community children performing music in the UTSA Downtown String Project Winter Concert. The children, led by UTSA music students studying to be music teachers, will join together in playing the Theme from Batman at their concert. The Batman of San Antonio, a local celebrity figure, will make an appearance at the concert. This event is free.
Buena Vista Theatre, Downtown Campus
Aspiring doctor hopes to change medical attitudes toward obesity-related ailments
As touch screens and e-books demand more and more attention from both casual readers and scholars, many people say the handwriting is on the wall for the printed page.
At UTSA, the handwriting is on the wall for a library that doesn't have any printed books.
Since March 2010, the bookless library in the Applied Engineering and Technology Building has given UTSA students an innovative way to read, research and work with each other to solve problems.
With ultra-modern furniture and a décor featuring desktop computers, scanners and LCD screens, the AET Library is designed to engage students in an online format. But it also offers group study niches and study rooms with whiteboards and glass walls on which students can write. The space encourages teamwork, communications and problem solving for the next generation of scientists and professional engineers.
Did you know? The UTSA AET Library is the nation's first completely bookless library on a college or university campus. It served as a model for Bexar County's first-in-the-nation public bookless library system and one of its branches, the Dr. Ricardo Romo BiblioTech.
The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.
To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.
We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.