Researchers have discovered that a type of white blood cell carries a deadly fungus into the brains of HIV positive patients, causing meningitis which kills more than 600,000 people a year. The discovery could lead to more effective ways of tackling the deadly fungus as it infects the human body. Researchers tested 65 strains of the fungus Cryptococcus which had been collected from HIV positive patients enrolled in clinical trials. Their aim was to find out what leads certain patients to have higher amounts of the fungus in their spinal fluid – a key indicator of likelihood of death. This new study shows that fungal strains that are more easily engulfed by white blood cells, called macrophages, go on to cause a higher fungal burden in patients.
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