Whether you are breathing in the fresh air of the countryside or the smog of the city, odds are you have inhaled hundreds of spores of fungi. Aspergillus fumigatus is one such fungus. Its coral-like colonies thrive in compost heaps across the country and when inhaled it’s soon destroyed by our immune system. However for people with weakened immunity, such as those with AIDS or leukaemia, this fungus can be deadly. Anti-fungal drugs can be used to combat its destructive effects. Applying one of a family of anti-fungal agents, called echinocandins, results in irrevocable damage by causing the tips of the fungal branches to rupture (seen here highly magnified by electron microscopy). And because they target only the fungal cell wall – the tough outer covering – human cells are left unharmed.
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.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.