A research program investigating the background of various fungal infections and laying the foundations for new treatment strategies has been completed at the ELKH Biological Research Centre (BRC) and the University of Szeged. The project, which received HUF 590 million in EU funding, aimed to understand the biological background of opportunistic and emerging yeast and dermatophyton fungal infections that threaten different patient groups. The research was carried out using complementary microbiological, genomic, immunological and physiological-microbiological tools.

Opportunistic microorganisms have the potential to cause infection and increase mortality, particularly in organisms with reduced immunity. The risk factor is particularly high for seriously ill people, patients who have undergone an organ transplant, and those who are treated in hospital or who are on antibiotics for long periods.

There are only a limited number of effective, yet targeted, microbially harmful agents against eukaryotic microbes. This makes it urgent to understand the mechanisms of fungal infections that threaten different patient groups and to design new treatment strategies.

In the research program, model systems have been developed to study host-pathogen interactions, the mechanisms of interaction between microorganisms and the human host have been explored, and the factors that influence infectivity have been identified and evaluated. In addition, the mechanisms of host immune response have been analyzed, while susceptibility to antifungal agents and the development of resistance have been investigated. Therapeutic strategies against infectious organisms have also been developed and tested.

The fungal strains and cell lines characterized as a result of the research program have been deposited in the Szeged Microbiological Collection, the largest and most extensive microbial gene bank in the country.