Public Release:  LSUHSC scientist awarded nearly $2 million to determine role of biofilms in common fungal infection

Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center

New Orleans, LA - Mairi Noverr, PhD, Associate Professor in the Department of Prosthodontics at the LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans School of Dentistry, has been awarded a $1.7 million grant over five years by the National Institute of Dental & Craniofacial Research of the National Institutes of Health to study the role of biofilms in infection and disease. This research will contribute to our understanding of how biofilms are involved in fungal disease development, leading to the discovery of new therapeutic targets.

Dr. Noverr, a microbiologist, is studying a model of dental stomatitis, a fungal infection affecting approximately 50-75% of otherwise healthy denture wearers, and C. albicans, the most common infection-causing yeast. C. albicans normally lives on the skin and mucous membranes without any problem. But its overgrowth can result in infection. C. albicans is the most common cause of denture stomatitis. C. albicans readily forms biofilm on denture materials; however, the role of biofilm formation in the disease development process of denture stomatitis is unknown. Biofilms are the sticky substances composed of microorganisms like yeasts, bacteria, etc. that form on and adhere to wet surfaces including teeth, dental prostheses, or implants. Dental plaque is an example of a biofilm.

The major goals of this grant are to determine the role of biofilm formation in Candida-associated denture stomatitis and determine how the immune response influences development of the disease.

"Information gathered in these studies can be applied to other Candida mucosal and device-related biofilm infections, which can cause systemic infection and significant illness and death," notes Dr. Noverr, who is also a member of the LSUHSC Center of Excellence in Oral Biology. "Because biofilms are not only resistant to antimicrobial drugs but also to immune defenses, this knowledge base can be used to develop novel immunotherapies that target biofilm growth."

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LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans educates Louisiana's health care professionals. The state's academic health leader, LSUHSC includes a School of Medicine, the state's only School of Dentistry, Louisiana's only public School of Public Health, and Schools of Allied Health Professions, Nursing, and Graduate Studies. LSUHSC faculty take care of patients in public and private hospitals and clinics throughout the region. In the vanguard of biosciences research in a number of areas in a worldwide arena, LSUHSC faculty have made lifesaving discoveries and continue to work to prevent, advance treatment, or cure disease. To learn more, visit http://www.lsuhsc.edu and http://www.twitter.com/LSUHSCHealth.

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