Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Another Breakthrough at the National Aspergillosis Centre

Medical student Jo Armstead
At the end of her third year at medical school Jo Armstead spent last summer at the National Aspergillosis Centre (NAC) at University Hospital of South Manchester, Wythenshawe, Manchester carrying out research into the proportion of people with the genetic disorder Cystic Fibrosis (CF) who also have an infection with the fungus Aspergillus.

It was known that people with CF have an increased chance of getting aspergillosis - recorded mainly as ABPA and that perhaps 10 - 15% of all CF patients have this allergic infection, and more will eventually get the more invasive chronic pulmonary aspergillosis (CPA) but here at NAC we have argued for the existence of further types of infection (Aspergillus bronchitis) that are present in CF patients and which worsen the prognosis for CF. 

Jo's work took those estimates and applied them on a world wide scale in order to get a fuller picture of the number of cases of aspergillosis there may well be across the globe. These new estimates present a startling picture of nearly 50% of all adult CF patients actually having an Aspergillus infection. 

The implications of this are quite clear - if we have previously estimated that only 10-15% of CF patients have an Aspergillus infection then 35-40% of patients are not being treated for an Aspergillus infection they may have. We know the treatment of ABPA with antifungal medication has several benefits to the patient and this study suggests such treatment (amongst other additional treatments) may well be warranted for more CF patients than previously thought, bringing about a big shift in how CF may be managed in future.

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