This is a snapshot of the inside of a mouse’s brain, seen here magnified 200 times down a microscope, and it’s not at all well. The dark pink speckles are threads of Candida fungus, invading the brain tissue and spreading aggressively. Candida is the most common fungal infection in humans, and can cause serious disease or even death. Anti-fungal drugs can help to keep infections in check, but they need to work alongside the patient’s own immune system. The reason the fungus is running riot in this mouse’s brain is because it’s missing a gene called Card9, which normally mobilises special infection-fighting cells, known as neutrophils, into action against the invaders. Babies born without the human version of the gene, CARD9, often get fungal infections affecting the brain, so figuring out how to boost their neutrophils or other parts of the immune system could prove to be a lifesaving solution.
Written by Kat Arney
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.