Using genomic analysis to combat antifungal drug resistance

Dr. Rebecca Shapiro

Antimicrobials are commonly used to combat infectious diseases; however, the growing presence of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) threatens their effectiveness. Many emerging fungal pathogens, such as Candida auris, are resistant to antifungal drugs and endanger public health.

Recognizing the need for more research in this field, Dr. Rebecca Shapiro, an Assistant Professor in molecular and cellular biology at the University of Guelph, is studying fungal pathogens to understand the mechanisms of how they infect a host and ways in which they resist anti-fungal drugs. With the support of CIHR funding, Dr. Shapiro’s lab is adapting the CRISPR molecular technology to study fungal pathogens. As Dr. Shapiro explains, “our lab is employing these new technologies to identify and characterize genes that play an important role in how fungi respond to and develop resistance to antifungal drugs.”

By modifying and perfecting the CRISPR tools, Dr. Shapiro and her team can reduce the expression of certain essential genes, rather than mutating them, to better understand their functions. Characterizing these genes will help them determine which genes are suited as targets for new anti-fungal drugs. In the future, Dr. Shapiro and her team aim to validate the results of their research in animal models. By sharing their findings and CRISPR tools with the scientific community, Dr. Shapiro’s lab is advancing the fight against drug resistant fungi, with far-reaching benefits for public health.

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