University of Toronto Magazine University of Toronto Magazine

Combatting Drug Resistance

Making it easier for scientists to target drug therapy

Drug resistance in microbes is a predictable outcome of exposure to drugs, but some U of T research may modify that outcome. Doctoral student Leah Cowen is lead author of a study into the genetic changes in the much-maligned yeast Candida albicans – a common inhabitant of healthy humans that causes thrush, diaper rash and vaginal infections, as well as life-threatening infections in immuno-compromised individuals – when exposed to an anti-fungal drug. Researchers grew more than 330 generations of the yeast in the presence of the anti-fungal drug fluconazole. Drug resistance increased as predicted. Changes in hundreds of genes were noted, with altered genes displaying three distinct patterns. Recognizing these patterns will make it easier for scientists to target drug therapy, Cowen says.

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