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Medicine

Friendly Fungus Protects Our Mouths From Invaders 63

Posted by samzenpus
from the that's-a-mouthful dept.
sciencehabit writes "When we talk about the human microbiome, bacteria usually get all the press. But microscopic fungi live in and on us, too. New research shows that a little-known fungus called Pichia lives in healthy mouths and may play an important role in protecting us from an infection caused by the harmful fungus Candida. The friendly fungus makes a substance that may even lead to a new anti-fungal drug."
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Friendly Fungus Protects Our Mouths From Invaders

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  • by 3seas (184403) on Sunday March 16, 2014 @09:05AM (#46498003) Journal

    ...once the drug industry synthesizes the fungus Monsanto will kill off the moths.... and by out the rights holder.
     

  • Colony Life Forms (Score:5, Interesting)

    by resistant (221968) on Sunday March 16, 2014 @09:09AM (#46498011) Homepage Journal

    We already knew ourselves to be essentially colony life forms riddled with remnant retroviruses and ancient symbionts such as mitochondria, but it's damn interesting to see just how deeply integrated we are into the extremely complex biosphere all around us. It's a little depressing, perhaps, but eventually the boffins will accumulate a body of knowledge that may finally sort out all the ridiculous little things that can and will go wrong with human bodies in the murk of general ignorance. Obesity, cancer and all manner of weird and supposedly unexplained ailments -- they could simply be unknown quirks of how our innumerable symbionts and parasites interact with our basic DNA programming. -_-

  • Mouthwash (Score:2, Interesting)

    by roman_mir (125474)

    I wonder what effect if any mouthwash (with and without alcohol in it) has on this type of fungus.

  • I named my fungus Wilbur.
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Sunday March 16, 2014 @09:36AM (#46498099) Journal
    There are so many species of microbes that live within us as symbiots. Some consider the entire body of us as something like an ant or bee colony. The germline cells that end up in the gonads alone go on to produce offspring. All the remaining cells (like blood cells, muscle cells, etc) choose to remain sterile to help the germline cells reproduce.

    For some of the bee colonies, the workers and the queen have genetic relatedness of 0.75, our body cells have r=1 between blood cells and gonads. Thus the insect colony is a looser agglomeration and our bodies are tighter agglomerations. Between parent and children the relatedness factor r=0.5, between cousins r= 0.125. uncles/aunts to nephews/nieces r= 0.25. In societies where first cousin marriage is encouraged, the general relatedness of the population could be much higher. Though it was not unknown in Europe (Einestein, Darwin married their first cousins) it is more common in the East. Even then most of them allow only children of a brother and sister to marry, not children of two brothers or children of two sisters. The only exception is the Ottoman empire which made marriage between children of brothers legal/halal/kosher. (Since Ottoman empire was Islamic many people confuse this practice with Islam. But in Muslim countries that were never ruled by the Ottomans this practice is very rare). Places that were once ruled by the Ottoman empire you could have whole villages or clans where all males have exactly the same y chromosome and have very high degree of relatedness. Such populations would pledge allegiance to the clan and take great personal sacrifices for the sake of their clans or tribes or villages or their shieks.

    You could see the level of personal sacrifice made by individual animals or cells as a continuum plotted on genetic relatedness factor r. Our cells pledge very tight allegiance to the germline cells, ants/bees somewhat looser, human societies with very high relatedness have high patriotic feelings and personal sacrifices for the sake of community.

    Trying to impose a western style democracy of a society with a mean value r on to other societies with an order of magnitude different r would not work easily. Giving autonomy and self governance for people/tribes/clans with high degree of relatedness, but subject to collective punishments and rewards would be considered sacrilege in the West. But such practices are more likely to succeed, pacify the population and lead to peace.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by pepty (1976012)

      Places that were once ruled by the Ottoman empire you could have whole villages or clans where all males have exactly the same y chromosome and have very high degree of relatedness. Such populations would pledge allegiance to the clan and take great personal sacrifices for the sake of their clans or tribes or villages or their shieks.

      Trying to impose a western style democracy of a society with a mean value r on to other societies with an order of magnitude different r would not work easily. Giving autonomy and self governance for people/tribes/clans with high degree of relatedness, but subject to collective punishments and rewards would be considered sacrilege in the West. But such practices are more likely to succeed, pacify the population and lead to peace.

      There's an old Bedouin (who were part of the Ottoman empire for a while) saying: "I against my brother, my brothers and I against my cousins, then my cousins and I against strangers"

      Tribalism/clannism doesn't bring peace, it just structures violence and corruption differently while removing many of the checks and balances.

      • by rk (6314)

        Which isn't all bad... after all, the Bedouins didn't invent nuclear weapons.

  • by transporter_ii (986545) on Sunday March 16, 2014 @09:39AM (#46498119) Homepage

    Probiotics and alternative medicine people have said things like this for decades. Modern life, with antibiotics for non-life threatening illnesses, and things to kill bacteria at every turn, is one big living experiment. Little things that have big consequences that are really unknown:

    Antiseptic Mouthwash Raises Heart Attack Risk
    http://www.medicaldaily.com/an... [medicaldaily.com]

    • antibiotic soap (Score:5, Insightful)

      by transporter_ii (986545) on Sunday March 16, 2014 @09:52AM (#46498197) Homepage

      Same goes for skin, as well. Wash your hands, but you don't have to "nuke bacteria from orbit." A lot of it is good for you and is there for a reason.

      Scientists Discover That Antimicrobial Wipes and Soaps May Be Making You (and Society) Sick

      http://blogs.scientificamerica... [scientificamerican.com]

      What is worse, perhaps the most comprehensive study of the effectiveness of antibiotic and non-antibiotic soaps in the U.S., led by Elaine Larson at Columbia University (with Aiello as a coauthor), found that while for healthy hand washers there was no difference between the effects of the two, for chronically sick patients (those with asthma and diabetes, for example) antibiotic soaps were actually associated with increases in the frequencies of fevers, runny noses and coughs [4]. In other words, antibiotic soaps appeared to have made those patients sicker. Let me say that again: Most people who use antibiotic soap are no healthier than those who use normal soap. AND those individuals who are chronically sick and use antibiotic soap appear to get SICKER.

      Here, then, is the evidence we need, evidence very clearly at odds with our intuition to scrub and scrub. Yet hardly anyone has followed up on Larson’s study and no one has reexamined what happens with chronically sick patients and antibiotic soaps. The truth is that few biologists are studying what antibiotic soaps do to us. Still, the evidence indicates that when confronted with a dirty grocery store cart handle, we should just wash with soap and water like our great grandmothers would have done (if they had had grocery carts). At the very least, antibiotic wipes do not appear to help us and, it may be that they are actually hurting us.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        What about antiseptics? I thought just alcohol and similar such germ killers (vs antibiotics), were the big breakthrough over a century ago in reducing all kinds of contact-borne infections that used to kill so many. Is there some optimal middle ground here?

    • by Anonymous Coward
      My dentist has been saying not to use mouthwash for decades too. Well, not that it causes heart attacks, but that healthy people shouldn't use mouthwash. There are times it is useful, when something bad gets out of control and you need to knock it back to allow the good bugs to return. Mainstream people think scientists were wrong on this, because they listen to advertising, instead of health professionals. Now they're falling for more advertising from alternative medicine scams.
    • by TheLink (130905)

      Funny. Years ago I thought I remember research that said the reverse. Can't find it though - Google seems crappier nowadays (you just get zillions of hits for the 2014 item).

      Even reduce premature births: http://www.dentistrytoday.com/... [dentistrytoday.com]

      Generally periodontal disease seemed linked to higher heart disease: http://www.webmd.com/heart-dis... [webmd.com]
      So maybe the particular mouthwash used was bad?

    • by kinnell (607819)
      You have to appreciate the irony that they find a new symbiotic fungus with clear health benefits and immediately try and use it to develop a novel way to kill fungus.
      • by Guy Harris (3803) <guy@alum.mit.edu> on Sunday March 16, 2014 @03:35PM (#46500493)

        You have to appreciate the irony that they find a new symbiotic fungus with clear health benefits and immediately try and use it to develop a novel way to kill fungus.

        And the health benefit is that it puts out a substance that, err, umm, kills other fungus species, so "[killing] fungus" - or, to state it in a more accurate fashion, "killing other fungus species - is the clear health benefit.

        So this is not any more ironic than, say, introducing a predatory mammal species to an ecosystem to cut down on the population of another mammal species.

    • by mcrbids (148650)

      To be fair, probiotics and alternative medicine people have said all kinds of ridiculous things for decades as well. I remember all too well the "ruby infused sun water" that was said to be a sure cure for my ear infections as a kid. That's just one of many similarly silly claims, as by recent protests against scam medical practices [randi.org] by actual doctors purposely trying to "overdose" on homeopathics...

      The value isn't in having the "right answer" - it's in knowing which answers are are, in fact, right. "Alterna

  • Don't use mouthwash (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Blaskowicz (634489) on Sunday March 16, 2014 @09:50AM (#46498189)

    The dentist told me not to use mouthwash recently, and here's a good scientific reason apparently. I told them I used it about once a month but they said please use it only when we prescribe it to you.

    I also learned you can mess with them by drinking red wine before going to the appointment, they're like "wtf is that on your tongue?".

  • Blown immune systems (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    This discovery could prove marvelous for people whose cancer treatments means their immune system has been blown away. Antibiotics to treat their infections often destroy friendly flora, resulting in runaway Candida infections. Using a friendly fungus to fight an destructive one could make a big difference.

  • by fustakrakich (1673220) on Sunday March 16, 2014 @10:18AM (#46498361) Journal

    Old egg salad sandwiches make you super intelligent and strong as an ox.

  • All fungi can fuck off. Seriously.

    • by Lehk228 (705449)
      try the medicated talc. I fought that shit for weeks and weeks using creams and sprays with little success then got rid of it with a $5 canister of medicated talc I think it was the CVS store brand
    • by dinfinity (2300094) on Sunday March 16, 2014 @01:10PM (#46499591)

      Terbinafine (Lamisil) is the most effective compound against that: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T... [wikipedia.org]
      1 week of exposure is enough to eradicate all traces of the fungi that cause athlete's foot. Lamisil Once is very effective if you're lazy or forgetful.

      If you prefer 'natural' methods, you can apply (or soak in) a sufficiently acidic solution of citric acid or vinegar for two weeks. Skip a day and the two-week counter resets, as the method relies on the fungi not reproducing until they all die naturally. The same goes for most anti-fungal treatments, by the way (which is why Lamisil Once is so effective).

      While we're on the subject of fungi: dandruff is often caused by the fungus http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M... [wikipedia.org] (globosa), which feeds on the lipids on your scalp.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Z... [wikipedia.org] is quite effective in dealing with the fuckers, without requiring a prescription from your doctor.

      • My allergist isn't a big fan of zinc pyrithione. Selenium sulfide shampoos, OTOH, have worked far better for my seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp (also possibly caused by a fungus...specifically, a normal member of the skin ecosystem that gets out of control on some people) than zinc pyrithione ever did. I've noticed it works even better when used in concert with a prescription topical steroid. You want to absolutely minimize use of the steroid, but the one-two punch is strong enough that I can get away
        • My allergist isn't a big fan of zinc pyrithione.

          Because? I'm genuinely interested.

          Selenium sulfide shampoos [...] have worked far better for my seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp

          Mm, I had not yet encountered that one. After a bit of googling, I found this good overview: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pm... [nih.gov] (the substance specific appreciation is at the end).

  • by koan (80826)

    The friendly fungus makes a substance that may even lead to a new anti-fungal drug."

    Leading to overuse, abuse and a reduction in effectiveness, I also wonder how much mouthwash really helps over the long term as some bacteria adapts to the conditions and these "friendly fungi" may not.

  • I think it's kind of cool this may lead to an explanation for licking one's wounds.
  • Some has or will come up with a test for this fungus, the Pichia Test. Dentists will take a swab of your mouth and either perform the test or send the swab off for analysis. If you don't have the fungus you can come back and be inoculated with Pichia. This might be something like inoculating the bowels of patients with the bacteria they're missing because of anitbiotic treatments that killed off their digestive system flora. Of course, skeptics will figure dentists are being coerced by some three letter gov
  • ...a little-known fungus called Pichia lives in healthy mouths and may play an important role in protecting us from an infection caused by the harmful fungus Candida.

    I really can't help it but when I read this, it sounded to me like someone is already writing a script for the next Hollywood summer action blockbuster. :-)

  • If we train the Candida to resist the anti-fungal chemical because it's far more widely in use in pharmaceuticals, we have the lovely prospect of Candida becoming a pandemic because our defences have been compromised...

    Sometimes I'm grateful that I probably won't be around to see the worst consequences of our foolish use of technology!

    • by skids (119237)

      Candidas is regularly exposed to "this chemical" everyday and has been for thousands of years.

      • On that logic the widespread use of antibiotics shouldn't have caused the emergence of antibiotic resistant strains. Since it is usually argued that it is the prevalence of antibiotics at low levels that enable these strains to develop, it surely works the way I suggest. Or am I missing something?
  • What does this have to do with the books I had at school?
    http://www.candida.co.nz/ [candida.co.nz]

  • By researchers studying the human microbiome.

    What's fascinating to me about all this new information is watching how the medical community is going to integrate it. I mean, we now have proof that antibiotic use, microbicides, anti fungals, and so many modern medical and industrial methods have a long-term consequence that are very ugly and far-reaching.

    Now watch as industry subverts and suppresses scientific discovery in order to ensure long term shareholders profits.
  • Some quick Wikitumbling has informed me that more than 100 species of this Pichia are known. I am curious as to which Pichia I want in my mouth to protect me. Of course some (maybe all?) Pichia is also known kill other molds that produce Aflatoxins which are " among the most carcinogenic substances known" . So where is the industry selling me Pichia (and other fun fungus/biomatter) in my yogurt (or better yet in a "green" mouthwash) so that I might both lower my chances to get cancer and defeat yeast infect

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