Pharmacist secures funding for fungal research

A research study on invasive aspergillosis, a life-threatening infection in people with a weakened immune system, has been awarded funding from pharmaceutical company, Pfizer.

The project will be led by Lisa Nwankwo, specialist pharmacist at Royal Brompton and Harefield hospitals and will focus on therapeutic outcomes in patients with invasive aspergillosis.

Aspergillosis is a condition caused by the aspergillus mould and presents in different forms, including invasive, chronic and allergic. Most forms of the disease affect the lungs which causes symptoms such as cough, shortness of breath and wheezing.

Invasive aspergillosis is caused by the fungus known as A. fumigatus, which presents in people with weakened immune systems, underlying diseases, critical illness or who have had organ transplantations. Patients with severe respiratory infections such as COVID or Influenza can also develop the disease.

Invasive aspergillosis affects approximately 200,000 patients every year, causing a significant burden to both patients and the NHS. Current treatments for the disease follow a one-size-fits-all approach which involves antifungal medication.

While inappropriate antifungal use or overuse is known to result in resistance to these medications, there is a lack of specific information on factors which contribute to treatment failure.

Lisa’s research aims to evaluate the effectiveness of current antifungal therapies and to identify patient characteristics that predispose patients to treatment failure and antifungal resistance development.

Lisa was pleased to receive the award and said:

“I plan to use big data analytics to provide us with useful insights for optimising the currently limited available therapies. For patients more effective treatment strategies will mean better disease control and an improved quality of life.”

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