According to Science Daily, invasive fungal infections are becoming more widespread due to the abuse of antifungal drugs. A novel vaccination may be the first immunization licensed for clinical use to treat these diseases. Fungal infections cost billions of dollars to cure globally, killing more than 1.5 million people yearly. Fungal infections kill roughly 1.5 million people annually and cost billions of dollars to treat.
As per a recent study from the University of Georgia, these difficulties quadruple hospitalization expenses, the duration of hospital stays, and the risk of mortality for hospitalized patients. However, no prophylactic vaccines are available to protect susceptible populations against fungal illnesses.
“There is a significant unmet clinical need for this type of preventive therapy,” said Karen Norris, professor of veterinary medicine and the study’s principal researcher. In recent years, the number of persons diagnosed with invasive fungal infections has skyrocketed.
It is believed that one of three common fungal pathogens causes 80% of all fatal fungal infections, and this experimental vaccination aims to protect against all three. Nonhuman primates were one of four types of preclinical animal models utilized to test the effectiveness of the vaccination.
Transplant recipients, HIV/AIDS patients, and cancer patients are among the most vulnerable human groups. Hence the study relied on immunocompromised animals to simulate their treatment regimens. According to Norris, a university professor and head of the Center for Vaccines and Immunology, it can be a breakthrough for invasive fungus infections.
The Phase I (human) safety study for the vaccine has commenced. Fungal infections are more likely in people with impaired immune systems due to immunological disorders such as uncontrolled HIV or medications such as chemotherapy or anti-inflammatory drugs.
Diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, or co-infections such as COVID-19, TB, or influenza increase the risk of fungal infections. Antifungal drugs containing azoles are widely used as a first line of defense. However, antifungal treatment resistance is increasing. According to Norris, this makes antifungal measures even more important than they were before.
Aspergillus, Candida, and Pneumocystis are humans’ three most frequent fungal infections. The fact that some Candida strains have gained resistance to several medications is quite a concern for the medical community. In animal tests, the vaccination provided substantial and long-lasting antifungal protection.
“This is an area that has been undeveloped on the scientific front for a long time,” said Norris, the Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in Immunology and Translational Biomedicine. “Although much effort has been made into finding a remedy, no vaccines for invasive fungal diseases have been licensed for use in such large populations. We have the highest trust in this vaccine candidate compared to the others.”