Evolution of Fluconazole Resistance in Candida albicans
The opportunistic fungus Candida albicans is found naturally in the human body. The immune system normally keeps the fungus safely in check; however given an immunodeficient or immuno-impaired host, the fungus population can grow to harmful levels. Hence, Candida albicans often afflicts HIV and cancer patients. Antifungal agents called azoles are used to treat Candida albicans. Resistant strains develop through natural mutations and flourish when the antifungal agents are not implemented correctly. These resistant strains of Candida albicans can coexist with non-resistant strains. In this study we assume that if an antifungal agent is used after the resistant strains have developed, the antifungal agent will only be effective in killing the susceptible strain, while the resistant strain can survive, but with reduced virulence. Resistance to antifungal treatment in a given population of Candida albicans is modeled via a system of nonlinear differential equations. This model is used to study the development of resistant strains of Candida albicans due to improper use of azoles, specifically fluconazole.
Omayra Ortega, Pomona College
Nnaemeka Anyadike, Virginia Commonwealth University
Aaron Greenblatt, Duke University
Martin Engman, Universidad Metropolitana-Cupey
Stephen Wirkus, Cornell University