Investigating new treatments for invasive aspergillosis in CGD

Professor Adilia Warris, deputy director of the Medical Research Council (MRC) Centre for Medical Mycology, leads the work to test new ways to treat infections in CGD caused by the fungus Aspergillus. Awarded in November 2016. 

Project leaders: Professors Adilia Warris and Gordon D. Brown
Location: Institute of Medical Sciences, University of Aberdeen
Duration: 1 year, starting January 2017
Total project cost: £14,141
Official title: Assessing new treatment modalities to improve the outcome of invasive aspergillosis in CGD patients

What this research means for people with CGD

The condition invasive aspergillosis (IA) is a serious, life-threatening problem for people with CGD. This study will test a combination of different treatments in a mouse model of aspergillosis in CGD, providing essential information on how best to prevent and treat IA in CGD patients.

Background to the work

Aspergillosis is an infection caused by Aspergillus, a type of fungus that lives indoors and outdoors. Most people breathe in Aspergillus spores every day without getting sick. However, people with weakened immune systems, as in CGD, are at a higher risk of developing health problems due to Aspergillus.

Aspergillus infections are found predominantly in the lungs, but other organs can also be affected, such as the brain, and the bones. These infections are treated with antifungal drugs, such as voriconazole or amphotericin B. However, previous work has shown that it is important not only to stop the fungus from invading but also to treat the excessive inflammation that happens as a consequence of trying to fight the infection, and which can cause serious damage to body tissues, such as the lungs. The cytokine interleukin-1 (IL-1), which is produced by white blood cells, is known to be a key driver of inflammation in the body, and drugs are available that can dampen its effect. This study will test a combination of antifungals and modulators of IL-1 to target both inflammation and fungal growth to find out what works best in a CGD mouse model of IA. If it can be shown that a particular combination works best, the next step will be to use it in the treatment of CGD patients when they develop IA.

Further information and links

The work is being undertaken at a leading centre of research into the prevention and treatment of fungal diseases. Find out more about the research of Professor Warris at http://www.abdn.ac.uk/cmm/public-engagement/research-stories.php