A new study by Althea Campuzano, Ph.D. a student at The University of Texas at San Antonio, and Floyd Wormley, Jr., Professor of Biology and Senior Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies, sheds light on little-known fungal infections caused by the fungus Cryptococcus. There are currently no vaccines available for any fungal infection, which can be extremely deadly to patients under treatment for diseases like HIV, AIDS and cancer. Campuzano and Wormley suggest that more research is needed to develop an effective solution to these infections.
“Cryptococcus is a type of fungus that all humans are frequently exposed to without much effect,” Campuzano said. “People with healthy immune systems might be infected but may feel no symptoms. It is often cleared or kept in check without people even knowing they’ve encountered it.”
However, a person whose immune system is weakened by illness could face serious complications from being infected by Cryptococcus because the immune system is less able to respond appropriately to the infection when it’s weakened. As a result, the body’s innate cells, which normally destroy pathogens, allow the fungal infection to spread to the brain, which can lead to meningitis.
“Most people who are infected with
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