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Finding New Ways to Prevent and Treat Fungal Infections

Updated: Jan 7, 2022

This article was original shared in the University of Regina's spring/summer issue of Discourse Magazine.

two women scientists in a lab
Tanya Dahms (seated) and research associate Taranum Sultana (standing), who was instrumental in securing the SHRF grant, in a University of Regina lab. Photo Credit: University of Regina Photography

Fungal infections, relatively common worldwide, are associated with high death rates in hospital patients with compromised immune systems. Patients who receive medication by catheter are at increased risk for the most common fungal infection, invasive candidiasis caused by Candida species.

University of Regina biochemistry professor Tanya Dahms received a $50,000 2018-19 Collaborative Innovation Development Grant from SHRF to initiate a new project.

Dahms says the grant will galvanize a group of researchers to find new anti-fungal combinations intended to help prevent and treat fungal infections. “Currently only a limited number of anti-fungal drugs remain effective in the fight against the global rise of invasive fungal infections among immunocompromised patients.”

The research team includes University of Regina associate professor Mohan Babu, research associate Taranum Sultana, master’s student Fatema Zohora, PhD candidate Ali Molaeitabari, Saskatchewan Health Authority medical microbiologist Dr. Jessica Minion, and Canada Research Chair Malcolm Whiteway from Concordia University.

The team will study monoterpenoids, a class of plant derivatives that have strong anti-fungal properties. By analyzing the impact that these plant derivatives have on Candida species, both alone and in combination with classic antifungals, the researchers will determine potential clinical use (such as catheter coatings) and how to increase their effectiveness, while finding combinations that reduce fungal resistance.

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