As fungal infections are becoming more common with the increased use of immunosuppressive drugsClemson University researchers are looking for ways to better target the immune system’s response.
Immunosuppressive drugs reduce the body’s ability to fight off other things such as the fungal spore Aspergillus fumigatuswhich in healthy people is usually destroyed by the body’s immune system before it becomes a problem.
Researchers are studying how the immune system works in order to develop better tools that won’t largely shut down the body’s immune system.
Emily Rosowski, an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the College of Sciences, has led efforts to develop new ways to target specific immune pathways rather than compromising the body’s immune system with broad-acting immunosuppressants.
“(Patients) are at risk for opportunistic infections from microbes in the environment that don’t normally make people sick because a healthy immune system fights them off,” Rosowski said.
Rosowski received $1.2 million MIRA National Institutes of Health (Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award) to continue his research.
It uses zebrafish larvae infected with Aspergillus fumigatus for his research, as he has genomes and immune responses similar to those of humans. The fish also have transparent skin, which allows researchers to study what is going on inside the creature.
“Understanding which immune responses are most important in fighting these infections will allow us to find treatments that will boost or stimulate immune responses to help control the infection versus just those antifungals that directly target the fungus,” he said. she stated.