Aspergillus Newsletter
June 2013
Genomics Powers the Search for New Antifungal Drugs
Researchers have compared the genomes of four clinical isolates of Aspergillus fumigatus, two of which were resistant to an antifungal and two not resistant - all isolates were from the same patient. This itself illustrates the new power we have to rapidly sequence entire genomes - unthinkable even a few years ago.
As a consequence a new metabolic pathway of resistance was discovered involving a mutation of the gene HapE which confers resistance.
The University of Manchester and F2G Ltd, a privately-held antifungal drug discovery and development company and today announced the start of a 6.1 million euro EU-funded project to discover and develop novel antifungal drugs to treat serious, life-threatening fungal infections

A new pathogenic species of Aspergillus has been discovered (Aspergillus felis). Mainly infecting cats there has been a single case in humans.
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This Institute Review Board approved prospective study was undertaken to assess the usefulness of high resolution computed tomography (HRCT) in early detection and characterization of pulmonary abnormalities in febrile neutropenia. Study concludes HCRT chest is an excellent modality in the diagnostic workup of these patients allowing early detection and characterisation.
Investigated the diversity of fungal communities in nine different deep-sea sediment samples of the South China Sea by culture-dependent methods followed by analysis of fungal internal transcribed spacer (ITS) sequences. Researchers conclude that this region is an excellent potential source for antibiotics discovery.
FlbB and FlbE are necessary for the proper laeA expression, toxin production, and virulence of A. fumigatus.
This paper reports the development, validation and application of an enzyme immunoassay to quantify A. versicolor antigens. A sandwich ELISA was developed using polyclonal antibodies that recognize a broad range of A. versicolor proteins present in fungal spores and in mycelia fragments
Invasive aspergillosis (IA) is a feared opportunistic infection for many immuncompromised children resulting in significant morbidity and mortality. Timely diagnosis based on traditional testing modalities and clinical evaluation has proven to be challenging. Assays designed to measure IAbiomarkers such as galactomannan (GM) and beta-D-glucan (BG) represent a potential significant improvement in the ability to diagnose pediatric IA. Published adult and pediatric data regarding GM and BG testing are reviewed and guidance regarding the appropriate utility of these assays in children is offered.
Despite multiple reports of antifungal prophylaxis efficacy, a randomized, controlled, multicenter trial has yet to be performed. The optimal agent or agents for prophylaxis and length of therapy posttransplantation remain unknown. However, sufficient evidence exists for the utility of some type of antifungal prophylaxis posttransplantation for the majority of lung transplant recipients.
For the treatment of most invasive fungal infections, an amphotericin B lipid formulation provides a safer alternative than conventional amphotericin B, with at least equivalent efficacy. As the cost of therapy with these agents continues to decline, these drugs will likely maintain their important role in the antifungal drug armamentarium because of their efficacy and improved safety profile.
Damp & Health
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New Masters Degree in Medical Mycology at the University of Manchester starting in September 2013. This Masters programme has been specifically designed for graduates who wish to develop their skills as medical mycologists. The programme aims to combine a significant level of theoretical understanding and practical skills.
The course is a joint effort of the Mycological of China, Dermatology Society of Chinese Medical Association and the CBS Fungal Biodiversity Centre. Lectures will be in English and Chinese language. Lectures and microscopic work will follow the style of the CBS Mycology course, and the Atlas of Clinical Fungi will be used as lab manual.
Aspergillosis caused by Aspergillus fumigatus seems to be more prevalent in some avian species than in others. We compared the development of aspergillosis in 8-month-old Gyr-Saker hybrid falcons and 8-month-old pigeons after a single intratracheal inoculation of different dosages of A. fumigatus conidia (10(7), 10(5) and 10(3)).
Of the many important avian wildlife diseases, aspergillosis, West Nile virus, avipoxvirus, Wellfleet Bay virus, avian influenza, and inclusion body disease of cranes are covered in this article.
Attention Clinicians & Scientists
The Joint Genome Institute (JGI) welcomes nominations of genomes to be sequences in its Community Sequencing Program. For procedures how to submit a proposal, see here. The current fungal program can be found here.
You may like to contribute to the following collaborative groups who are collecting clinical data on these rare infections:
Fungiscope is a global rare fungal infection registry, a working group of ISHAM.
International Pediatric Fungal Network (PFN) collating information on treatment of pediatric patients
AspICU2 is a web-based multicentre observational survey to assess the burden of aspergillosis and other fungi in critically ill patients.
Public Health and Tropical Medicine Fellowships. It has come to our attention that there are a series of Fellowships funded by the Wellcome Trust available to applicants for low and middle income countries. We would like to encourage medical mycology applicants and would be happy to provide facilities and expertise for training at the National Aspergillosis Centre for applicants. We would like to identify applicants for these Fellowships and help facilitate application - please contact us
Request for assistance from clinics in all five continents of the world with a study entitled “Pulmonary aspergillosis in kidney transplant recipients” supported by REIPI and GESITRA This study has two targets. The first target is to define some risk factors that allow the identification of a subgroup of kidney transplant recipients that would be candidates for antifungal prophylaxis active against Aspergillus The second target is to find factors implicated in the outcome that were amenable to intervention.
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Also of interest...
Genomics of Soil- and Plant-Associated Fungi (Soil Biology) by Benjamin A. Horwitz, Prasun K. Mukherjee and Christian P. Kubicek (Oct 30, 2013)
Advances in Applied Microbiology, Volume 84 by Geoffrey M. Gadd and Sima Sariaslani (Jul 15, 2013)

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