WARF: P06029US

Global Regulator of Morphogenesis and Pathogenicity in Dimorphic Fungi


Bruce Klein, Julie Nemecek, Marcel Wuethrich

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) is seeking commercial partners interested in strains of dimorphic fungi that do not become virulent.
OVERVIEWDimorphic fungi are soil-dwelling microorganisms that are harmless in their usual mold form, but once inhaled by a mammal, transform into virulent yeast and cause life threatening illnesses, such as pneumonia and meningitis. Organisms in this class of fungi include Blastomyces dermatitidis, Histoplasma capsulatum, Coccidioides immitis, Paracoccidioides brasiliensis, Sporothrix schenckii and Penicillium marneffei. People with compromised immune systems or who are often in close contact with soil, such as military personnel, farm workers and construction crews, as well as many companion animals, including dogs and horses, are at especially high risk of infection with these molds.
THE INVENTIONUW-Madison researchers have identified strains of dimorphic fungi that are useful in vaccine development because they do not become virulent, along with a method of identifying compounds that prevent dimorphic fungi from becoming virulent. The researchers discovered that the fungal histidine kinase is responsible for the transformation of these organisms into virulent yeast. Knocking out or otherwise inactivating the histidine kinase gene results in a fungal strain that does not become virulent.

To determine if a test compound may be useful as an anti-fungal therapeutic, it is exposed to the fungal histidine kinase. Because histidine kinases play a key role in the ability of many fungi to sense and respond to environmental changes, compounds that reduce the activity of the kinase may be used to prevent or treat infection with pathogenic fungi, including dimorphic fungi.
  • Prevention and treatment for infection with dimorphic fungi
  • Provides a means of identifying specific, potent therapeutics against these pathogens
  • May provide a treatment for infection with other polymorphic fungi
  • Enables the creation of new vaccines against dimorphic fungi
For More Information About the Inventors
  • Nemecek J.C., Wuethrich M. and Klein B.S. 2006. Global Control of Dimorphism and Virulence in Fungi. Science 312, 583-588.
Contact Information
For current licensing status, please contact Mark Staudt at or 608-960-9845.
The WARF Advantage

Since its founding in 1925 as the patenting and licensing organization for the University of Wisconsin-Madison, WARF has been working with business and industry to transform university research into products that benefit society. WARF intellectual property managers and licensing staff members are leaders in the field of university-based technology transfer. They are familiar with the intricacies of patenting, have worked with researchers in relevant disciplines, understand industries and markets, and have negotiated innovative licensing strategies to meet the individual needs of business clients.