Fears that the next great threat to public health may arise from a fungus, which humanity will not be ready to deal with, the deputy director of the Department of Clinical Immunology and Microbiology and director of the Department of Fungal Pathophysiology expresses in an interview with FM Agency of the National Institute of Health (NIH – National Institutes of Health) of the USA, Michalis Lionakis.

The reason for the fungus Candida auris which scares the scientific community, but also the entire humanity, because of it global spread of the last one decade.

Mr. Lionakis mentions that climate change is probably one of the reasons for the spread, emphasizing at the same time that the resistance of this particular fungus has tripled in the last two years.

According to the researcher, the discovery of how Candida auris adheres to the skin and central venous catheters through the Surface Colonization Factor, as it is called, may lead scientists in the future to create antibiotics that will inhibit this attachment mechanism.

Candida auris is a type of fungus and one of the few species of the Candida genus that cause it candidiasis to the person. Often, candidiasis, as a nosocomial infection, affects patients with a weakened immune system (immune deficiency). C. auris can cause mycosis during which it can infect the circulatory system, central nervous system and internal organs.

After 2019 it has attracted the high attention and vigilance of the medical community because of its multiple drug resistance and because it causes dangerous infections in hospitals. And its treatment is complicated because it is difficult to recognize and/or confused with other Candida species.

In addition to Candida auris, the frequency of resistance to other Candida species, such as Candida albicans, and Candida glabrata, is alarmingly increasing, according to Mr. Lionakis, who mentions that another emerging problem of resistance is found in Aspergillus, which can can cause fatal pneumonia in immunocompromised patients and mortality can reach up to 90%.

Antimicrobial resistance is not only a leading threat to public health, but also to the global economy, since it is estimated that it could cost up to 100 trillion dollars by 2025, says the internationally recognized researcher.

As he adds, at the moment 49 new antibiotics and organic products are found in clinical studies phase I, II and III. “This number may be higher than in the past, but it remains insufficient to effectively address the increasing spread of antimicrobial resistance. Steps have been taken in the positive direction in recent years, but we still have a lot of work to do,” emphasizes the distinguished infectious disease and immunologist.

Speaking about his lab’s research, he points out that there is now scientific evidence implicating the genetic diversity of genes that regulate our immune response to microbes, and which appear to play an important role in the outcome of bacterial, viral and fungal infections.

“Understanding these genetic and immunological factors will enable the identification of high-risk patients and lead to more targeted or personalized treatments. The example of the personalized treatment of oncological diseases in recent years is, in my opinion, a brilliant guide in this direction and for the specialty of infectious disease. An important part of my lab at NIH is working on understanding why some patients are predisposed to more severe or milder symptoms, and why some patients have a better or worse prognosis after an infection, so that we can help develop personalized antifungal therapies.”