Fungal diseases are a growing global health problem and a leading cause of blindness, meningitis and death, but this area is under-researched worldwide. Novel antifungal therapies selective for fungal cellular components are urgently needed to reduce the high global morbidity, mortality and cost associated with treating invasive fungal disease.
Our focus is the HIV/AIDS-related fungus, Cryptococcus neoformans, the world’s most common cause of fungal meningitis, resulting in an estimated 200,000 deaths each year. Using Cryptococcus as a model, helps us understand how fungi cause disease and enables the identification of new drug targets and the design of urgently needed therapies to combat these serious life-threatening infections.
Our laboratory has established reliable methods for manipulating the cryptococcal genome and for studying fungal cells at the molecular level. Using these methods, we have identified a fungal metabolic pathway that may potentially be blocked by drugs. We have a collaboration with University College London, the School of Life and Environmental Sciences University of Sydney, Monash University and the Leibniz Institute for Molecular Pharmacology, Berlin, to identify molecules that may block this pathway and prevent this fungus from causing meningitis.