Systemic fungal infections have increased dramatically in the last decades. A common characteristic in all septic fungal infections is that they are difficult to diagnose and result in elevated mortality rate. For this reason, Fungal Septomics focuses specifically on infection biology of systemic fungal infections.
Fungal Septomics aims at analysing both the variability of the pathogen and the regulation of the human immune system during sepsis. The most important model organism is the polymorphic yeast Candida albicans. We investigate how C. albicans can transform from a harmless ‘commensal’ into an invasive pathogen. The ability of C. albicans to switch from its yeast form to filamentous forms, enabling tissue-invasive growth, as well as adaptation to determinants of host niches are essential for this step. Fungal Septomics analyses the mechanisms of morphogenesis and environmental adaptation.
Invasive infections caused by C. albicans are almost always also associated with a dysfunction of the host’s immune response. Here, neutrophilic granulocytes are of particular importance. The action of neutrophilic granulocytes in concert with other components of the immune system as well as the functions of other immune cells are yet to be fully understood. The work of Fungal Septomics focuses on these questions, using established infection models for primary human immune cells, as well as a whole-blood infection model, as a simple but meaningful in vitro infection model.