Crippled fungus acts as vaccine | Science News

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Crippled fungus acts as vaccine

By
5:09pm, October 27, 2004

Even if your immune system can fend off harmful bacteria, viruses, and parasites, you still

have fungi to fear. Worldwide, millions of people suffer debilitating and even fatal fungal infections.

People with weakened immune systems, such as the elderly and AIDS patients, are particularly

susceptible.

Despite this threat, there's not a single fungal vaccine available for human use, and microbiologists

were for a long time pessimistic that there ever would be. Challenging that glum

forecast, a research group has now used a genetically crippled form of the yeast Blastomyces

dermatitidis to immunize mice.

While infections with this yeast are relatively rare in people, the advance lays the groundwork

for similar vaccines against more common fungal threats, say researchers.

An inhabitant of soil, B. dermatitidis frequently infects dogs and can cause a fatal respiratory

disease. The people facing the great

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