Friday, August 28, 2015

UTSA researchers examine fungus that causes fatal hospital infections

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(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.

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Read an article on the fungus research published March 26 in the open-access journal PLoS Pathogens.

 

 

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UTSA prides itself on giving students a well-rounded education. Combining a top-tier academic program with opportunities for personal growth prepares students to compete in a global economy. And that's not all. They learn to be informed and engaged citizens as well. At the heart of that academic program is an award-winning core curriculum.

For four consecutive years, UTSA has received an A-rating from the American Council of Trustees and Alumni for the caliber of its core curriculum. According to ACTA, UTSA requires its students to take six of the seven courses deemed "crucial" to a well-rounded education: composition, literature, U.S. government or history, economics, mathematics and science. Only a handful of other institutions in the U.S. are giving students these tools, which are needed to succeed in careers and the community.

Did you know? UTSA is one of only three Texas institutions and 23 in the United States to receive the highest rating for its core curriculum in the 2014-2015 edition of the ACTA's "What Will They Learn?" report.

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25Veinticinco exhibit opening reception

This exhibit includes prints by 25 Latino and Latina artists who worked in collaboration with a master printer in the print studio at the UTSA Department of Art and Art History. It runs through Oct. 12.
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Hispanic-Serving Institutions: Advancing Research and Transformative Practice

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