Fungal infections occur when fungus takes over an area of the body and the immune system is unable to fight it off.
Types include athlete’s foot, yeast infection, jock itch and ringworm.
People are more likely to suffer if they have a weakened immune system or take antibiotics.
They are usually easily treatable, however in some cases they can prove life-threatening.
An estimated 1.6 million people worldwide die a year due to fungal infections.
In fact, death rates due to fungal infections are similar to tuberculosis and greater than malaria.
However, scientists are a step closer to developing a drug that could treat these deadly infections.
Researchers at the Westmead Institute for Medical Research in Sydney have identified a protein produced by fungi that allows a particular type of fungus – Cryptococcus neoformans – to trigger a potentially lethal infection, known as fungal meningitis.
They believe that the findings could lead to new anti-fungal drugs.
“Finding new treatments to kill fungi is a major health priority,” said Associate Professor Julianne Djordjevic, who was the lead researcher.
“Novel anti-fungal drugs are desperately needed to reduce the high global morbidity, mortality and cost associated with treating invasive fungal infections.
“Because fungi are so similar to human cells, developing new drugs that kill fungi – but are non-toxic to humans – is a challenge.
“Furthermore not all anti-fungal drugs kill all types of fungi and drug-resistance is an emerging problem.
“By investigating how fungi cause disease, we have identified a new drug target with the view to design new therapies to combat these serious infections.”
Cryptococcus neoformans fungus is the world’s most common cause of fungal meningitis.
The infection then spreads from the lung to the brain via the bloodstream.
Symptoms of fungal meningitis can include fever, headache, stiff neck, nausea and vomiting, sensitivity to light and confusion.
Published at Wed, 11 Oct 2017 06:01:00 +0000