Blood poisoning due to fungus

Bernese researchers show how a yeast fungus, which is harmless in itself, can trigger blood poisoning and receive help from the immune system. These findings could enable new therapeutic approaches.


Artist's impression of the yeast Candida albicans. Image: iStock

Blood poisoning caused by a fungal infection is a severe, life-threatening condition. Researchers at the University of Bern have now discovered a mechanism that helps a yeast fungus to spread more easily within the body. The immune system, of all things, plays a major role in this process. When the yeast Candida albicans enters the bloodstream, an anti-inflammatory protein begins to multiply to such an extent that it disrupts the immune defense system. The immune system is then no longer able to stop the spread of the fungus.


The research results of the Bernese researchers could enable new therapeutic approaches in the future. "Fungal sepsis remains difficult to treat and is associated with a high mortality rate. In order to develop more effective treatment strategies, we need a better understanding of the underlying disease mechanisms," explains study leader Stefan Freigang of the Institute of Tissue Medicine and Pathology (IGMP).