Fungal Pathogens

Great Basin is developing a molecular diagnostic test that can identify the main species of Candida, the major cause of fungal infections.  By fast identification of species in positive blood cultures, the correct drug may be administered leading to better patient outcomes.

Due to the relative insensitivity of blood culture, the Great Basin Fungal Pathogen test may also be used for screening for fungal colonization as an approach to speed up therapy for high risk patients.

About Fungal Pathogens

Fungi are opportunistic pathogens causing infections in critically ill and immunocompromised patients with increasing frequency.  Fungi is now the fourth leading cause of blood stream infections and cause ~10% of nosocomial infections.  The main risk factors for fungal infections are broad-spectrum antibiotic use and fungal colonization.  Without the presence of these two risk factors, fungal infections are extremely rare; in a study of neutropenic cancer patients, 0.5% of non-colonized patients developed fungemia versus 32% of those with multiple sites of colonization.

Early treatment of fungal infections is critical.  Fungal blood stream infections have a very high attributable mortality of up to 47% and have increased treatment costs of $40,000. The primary drug of choice—fluconazole—is well tolerated but there is increasing evidence of drug resistance in certain fungi.  The other primary drug—Amphotericin—is effective but has significant toxicities and certain fungi are also resistant.  Current approaches to detect fungal species are slow (48 to 96 hours for species identification) and insensitive (blood cultures only detect ~50% of disseminated fungal infections). A rapid method to identify fungal species is important for directing appropriate therapy.