Scientists discover that microorganism prevents mouth infection

A U.S. research project has shown that Pichia, a beneficial fungal yeast, inhibits growth of the harmful fungal yeast Candida, which also causes oral thrush. The researchers hope that the findings will contribute to the development of a therapeutic agent to fight the painful mouth infection, as well as other fungal infections.

The study involved testing the mouths of 12 healthy individuals and 12 patients diagnosed with HIV for the presence of fungi and bacteria. HIV-infected participants were selected for comparison because oral candidiasis is the most common oral complication in these patients, the researchers explained.

Using DNA analysis, the researchers observed no differences with regard to bacteria between the two study groups. “However, what changed significantly was the composition of the fungal community,” said senior author Dr. Mahmoud A. Ghannoum. “We found that when Candida is present, Pichia is not, and when Pichia is present, Candida is not, indicating Pichia plays an important role in treating thrush.”

In the second phase of the study, the researchers conducted laboratory experiments on the fungi. When they grew Candida in test tubes in the presence of Pichia, there was a striking reduction in Candida growth.

“One day, not only could this lead to topical treatment for thrush, but it could also lead to a formulation of therapeutics for systemic fungal infections in all immune-comprised patients,” Ghannoum said. “In addition to patients with HIV, this would benefit very young patients and patients with cancer or diabetes.”

The study, titled “Oral Mycobiome Analysis of HIV-Infected Patients: Identification of Pichia as an Antagonist of Opportunistic Fungi,” was published online on March 13 in the PLOS Pathogens journal. It was conducted by Case Western Reserve University and the University Hospitals Case Medical Center.

Original Source: The Dental Tribune.com