Friday, 25 January 2008

Mycotoxins

Moldy Peach: Copyright Fungal Research Trust
Aspergillus can produce many mycotoxins - there is a complete list on the website here.

Generally mycotoxins are not usually produced while the fungus is growing well, but once it starts to run out of food or moisture it can happen, sometimes with disastrous effects - see the news article below

Cattle Feeding: What Are Mycotoxins?

Certain species of fungi (molds) produce toxic substances called mycotoxins. These fungi may be found growing on feed, silage, or hay in the field or in storage. Most mycotoxin production occurs in the field before harvest, but poor storage practices can increase already existing mycotoxin levels. Mycotoxins can cause cattle health and productivity problems at very low dosages, parts per million (ppm) or parts per billion (ppb). Mycotoxins are not necessarily produced whenever feed or forage becomes moldy, but evidence of mold indicates a risk of toxins. Fungi growth may also be present but undetectable upon casual observation.

Hundreds of mycotoxins have been identified. Mycotoxins of greatest importance worldwide include aflatoxins, trichothecenes, fumonisins, zearalenone, ochratoxin A and ergot alkaloids. Mycotoxins are regulated by Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine focuses on 5 major mycotoxins in the U.S.: aflatoxins, fumonisins, vomitoxin, ochratoxin A, and zearalenone.

Toxin producing fungi include molds from the Aspergillus, Fusarium, and Penicillium genera. Mississippi weather can be conducive to growth of molds in feedstuffs that are of concern for use in beef cattle diets. Generally, cool, wet conditions favor Fusarium species growth, while hot, dry conditions favor Aspergillus species growth.

Source: Mississippi State University Ag Extension


By far the most frequent potential problems for humans occur in stored foodstuffs such as grain and nuts, so strict storage and testing of imported food is undertaken worldwide.

There is some suggestion in the media that mycotoxins might be part of 'Sick Building Syndrome' and this was covered in the recent AAA meeting. We have complete abstracts and posters from that meeting here

Friday, 18 January 2008

Aspergillus niger is used to manufacture a new anticancer drug.


In the United States, lung cancer is the second most frequent cancer in both men (next to prostate cancer) and women (next to breast cancer). It remains the major cause of cancer death, killing more people than breast cancer, prostate cancer and colorectal cancer combined, and accounting for almost 30% of all cancer-related deaths.

Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) accounts for approximately 80% of all new lung cancer cases, with approximately 150,000 patients in the United States and 300,000 patients in Europe diagnosed each year. Most patients diagnosed with NSCLC have late- stage disease (Stage IIIB or IV), which is not surgically resectable. The current U.S. standard of care for these patients is systemic chemotherapy. Even with the available therapy, the five-year survival rate for these patients is less than 3%.

Lactoferrin, found in the highest concentration in milk, is expressed throughout the body in immune cells and on all body surfaces exposed to the external environment. Lactoferrin plays an important role in helping to establish the immune system, including the Gut Associated Lymphoid Tissue (GALT), in infants. Talactoferrin is produced in Aspergillus niger, a filamentous fungus, and is structurally identical to native human lactoferrin in all material respects, differing only in its glycosylation.

Read about this amazing new drug here

That bunged up feeling...


In the middle of a dark and damp winter here in the UK it is bad enough for most of us to suffer the misery of living in the semi-twilight for weeks on end. However spare a though for those for whom damp conditions and living indoors excessively can trigger even worse symptoms. Sinusitis can be triggered by allergens found indoors and by incessant damp conditions.

Sinusitis is a miserable condition for its sufferers and there are a LOT of sufferers. It is estimated that 32 million people in the US suffer from chronic sinusitis (Link), a condition that lasts for at least 12 weeks! It is frequently caused by virus or bacteria infecting the upper airways and sinuses causing painful and irritating inflammation of the mucus membranes lining the sinuses.

Recent research suggests that aspergillus and other fungi have an important influence on chronic sinusitis, especially when it does not clear up after repeated antibacterial treatment. Antifungal treatment can often help in those instances.

There are several resources available on the Aspergillus Website:

Treatment (registration needed):
1. Allergic aspergillus sinusitis
2. Saprophytic sinusitis

Educational material
Balls of fungi can sometimes develop and these can sometimes be removed by a steady-handed doctor using an aspirator - see this video.

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Aspergillosis Treatment, Diagnosis and Prevention: The Latest Guidelines

The latest guidelines for the treatment of most forms of aspergillosis have been published by the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) and are available in full here.

These guidelines replace the last publication on treatment of aspergillosis published in the year 2000.

Aspergillus species have emerged as important causes of morbidity and mortality in immunocompromised patients. Invasive aspergillosis currently constitutes the most common cause of infectious pneumonic mortality in patients undergoing
HSCT and is an important cause of opportunistic respiratory and disseminated infection in other immunocompromised patients.

Furthermore, Aspergillus species also produce a wide range of chronic, saprophytic, and allergic conditions. Although other forms of aspergillosis, such as ABPA, allergic sinusitis, and saprophytic infection, are also causes of morbidity, they are seldom life-threatening.

This document reviews guidelines for management of the 3 major forms of aspergillosis: invasive aspergillosis, chronic (and saprophytic)forms of aspergillosis, and allergic forms of aspergillosis (ABPA).

Given the public health importance of invasive aspergillosis,emphasis is placed on the diagnosis, treatment,and prevention of the different forms of invasive aspergillosis,including invasive pulmonary aspergillosis,sinus aspergillosis, disseminated aspergillosis, and several types of single-organ invasive aspergillosis.

Monday, 7 January 2008

Welcome!


The Aspergillus website has been supplying advice and information about this fungus for 10 years this year. We cover a wide range of subjects directly relating to aspergillus;
  • Illnesses such as aspergillosis, ABPA, aspergilloma, SAFS
  • Comprehensive guidelines for treatments, antifungal drugs
  • The latest diagnosis techniques
  • Genomic maps of fumigatus, niger, terreus, nidulans and others
  • Veterinary
  • Images
  • Case histories
  • Educational material for teaching a range of students
  • Streamed audiovisual material including clinical videos, conference presentations
  • Conference abstracts & full colour posters
  • A full library of complete articles, books, historical papers
  • A comprehensive database of species information crosslinked to metabolites and mycotoxins

Watch this blog for latest news and information, and for links to useful resources.

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Contact us at admin@aspergillus.org.uk