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UW-Eau Claire Microbiologist Publishes Research Related to the Improvement of Antifungal Drugs

RELEASED: Oct. 17, 2005

Dr. Lloyd Turtinen
Photo by Rick Mickelson, LTS

EAU CLAIRE — A microbiologist at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire recently published details of research that may lead to a better understanding of the human immune system, as well as the development of improved antifungal antibiotics to treat the kinds of infections that plague organ transplant recipients, cancer patients receiving chemotherapy and people dealing with immune system disorders such as AIDS.

Dr. Lloyd Turtinen, colleagues and students at UW-Eau Claire have been working for years on research related to understanding how to make antifungal drugs that are both highly effective and less toxic. Prior attempts to decrease the toxicity of these drugs often have led to a corresponding decrease in their effectiveness.

Turtinen and colleagues characterized the expression and release of more than 45 cytokines released from cells exposed to different formulations of Amphotericin B, one of the most commonly used antifungal drugs. Cytokines, first identified in 1974, are small protein molecules involved in the communication between immune system cells and between these cells and cells of other tissue types. Cytokines are actively secreted by these cells in response to external stimuli, such as drug therapy, and can sometimes have effects on the entire body.

When Turtinen and his researchers correlated reported acute side effects in patients treated with the different formulations of Amphotericin B with inflammatory cytokine profiles they generated for each of these formulations, they found that the number of cytokines released by cells were highest in the drug formulations causing acute toxicity in some patients.

"Understanding the innate immune mechanisms and identifying new markers involved in inflammation will help in the development of anti-fungal drugs with better therapeutic indices," said Turtinen.

Two articles detailing these research results were published in the journals Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, and Immunopharmacology and Immunotoxicology.

For more information, contact Turtinen at (715) 836-3506 or turtinen@uwec.edu.

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