NIH awards $3M grant to investigate Candida auris fungus treatment

By The Science Advisory Board staff writers

December 1, 2022 -- The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has awarded a five-year $3 million grant to Case Western Reserve University researchers to investigate the next level of treatment for Candida auris, a multidrug-resistant yeast that causes serious infection and, in some cases, death.

The fungus was discovered in Japan and has spread internationally, including to the United States. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has deemed it "an urgent threat" due to its drug resistance.

C. auris can be contracted through contact with contaminated medical equipment or spread person-to-person. It can survive on skin and healthcare surfaces up to two weeks, spreading in healthcare facilities and nursing homes, according to Mahmoud Ghannoum, PhD, professor of dermatology and pathology at the school of medicine and director of the Center for Medical Mycology at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center.

The NIH grant will allow the team led by researchers at the Case Western Reserve School of Medicine and University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center to evaluate and enhance an antifungal drug developed by the New Jersey-based biotech company, Scynexis. They will work on a drug therapy that not only may treat C. auris, but also prevent it.

"We hope to develop new antifungal compounds that will lead to clinical drugs through the research supported by this grant," Ghannoum said.

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