Scientists have discovered particular white cells in birds that are resistant against fungal attacks and could help find a cure for fungal infections in human beings, new study reveals.
Fungal infections are quite common among human beings and have great impact in people affected by diseases that affect the immune system for instance AIDS. Statistics indicate that more than one million people fall victim to fungal infections every year all over the world, and out of this number many hundreds of thousands succumb to death.
Researchers from the University of Sheffield may have found a clue that could help them discover a remedy for the infections and if the ongoing findings are anything to go with, cases of deaths caused by the Cryptococcus neoformans will be reduced.
Birds have been known to be carriers of the Cryptococcus neoformans fungus which is found in their droppings and upon coming in contact with the droppings, human beings become infected. In fact, researchers claim that birds even the healthiest ones play a leading role in spreading the virus.
What however puzzles many scientists is that though the birds are the main carriers of the fungus they never get infected despite having it within their digestive system. This led a team of researchers to start investigating why birds never fall ill despite the presence of the fungus and why the Cryptococcus neoformans thrives in their system.
Under the guidance of Dr Simon Johnston, researchers from the University of Sheffield may have discovered why birds are able to combat the fungus. Initially, it was thought that maybe it was because of the bird’s higher body temperature of 42°C as opposed to that of humans 37°C; however this is not the case.
Johnston and his colleagues have identified specialized white blood cells (macrophage) found in birds which can completely block the growth and spread of the Cryptococci fungus. Though it will be present in the bird’s digestive system it will not be unable to penetrate inside the immune system.
According to Dr Johnston, observation under the microscope reveal that the fungus grows at a much lower rate in birds compared to human beings. However if it attempts to penetrate into the bird’s immunity it is destroyed by the white blood cells.
By studying how the birds white cells are able to fend off any attack from the Cryptococci fungus scientists believe they can be able to find a cure for fatal fungus infection.