The new vaccine was made of a sugar-like molecule called beta-glucan that is found on the cell wall of the fungus and that the fungus needs to grow and survive. To induce a robust immune response to the vaccine, the group attached the relatively innocuous beta-glucan to a protein called diptheria toxin that is known to stimulate the immune system and has been used in other human vaccines.
The vaccine protected rodents from fatal fungal infections by triggering the production of anti-beta-glucan antibodies. These antibodies stuck to the invading fungal cell wall and prevented the fungus from growing. The authors now plan to test the vaccine in humans and hope the results are equally promising.