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RT PCR evaluation proves to be a sensitive method for detecting H. Capsulatum

January 08 2014

A recent publication reports the accuracy of seven different RT-PCR protocols to detect Histoplasma capsulatum DNA, in a multicenter study based on both unicopy or multicopy targets. Fungal DNA was isolated from isolated an clinical strain (CNM-CM-2721). Histoplasmosis is an infection acquired by the inhalation of Histoplasma capsulatum conidia present in soils rich in organic matter, particularly guano of bats or birds. Although this fungus has a global distribution, the most endemic regions are found in the American continent: Mississippi, Ohio, and Missouri river valleys in United States of America, and Central and South America 4/7 protocols were able to detect tiny amounts of fungal DNA - 100 fg/ul. The overall specificity of the seven PCR methods was 100% with sensitivity at 86%. One protocol based on a unicopy target (SCAR 220) had a lower sensitivity of 43% but retained 100% specificity. All protocols tested were highly reproducible , sensitive and specific, with no false positives or cross reactions. The study concludes that any of the RT PCR methods could be an efficient means of detecting histoplasma capsulatum in clinical material, but observes that the protocols based on multicopy targets are the most efficient when using very small amounts of DNA.
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Oral garlic is ineffective in preventing recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis

January 04 2014

Many women resort to alternative complementary medicines to attempt to manage recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis. recently published Research from Melbourne (Watson et al ) has investigated whether oral garlic has an effect on vaginal candida colony counts . In vitro, garlic is effective against Candida species . This study measured vaginal candida colony counts, measured in the second half of the menstrual cycle, in asymptomatic women known to be colonised with candida sp. There was no evidence of a difference in colonies in the garlic and placebo groups and therefore no evidence to suggest using garlic in clinical practice for vaginal candidiasis.
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Predictors of survival in cryptococcal meningitis in AIDS

December 23 2013

Using existing data from 501 patients in clinical trials in Thailand, Uganda, Malawi and South Africa, Joe Jarvis and colleagues from St George’s Hospital in London discovered some key parameters of survival in cryptococcal meningitis in AIDS. One third of the patients had died by 10 weeks. Younger age, being fully alert, less weight loss before presentation to hospital and initial amphotericin B treatment were 3 important characteristics of those who survived. High CSF fungal load, higher blood white cell count and anaemia predicted death. At one year 60% of patients were still alive. One in 8 (13%) developed immune reconstitution syndrome which was more frequent if the brain fungal load was higher and interestingly had no relationship with when antiretroviral therapy was started. Low cerebrospinal fluid gamma interferon doubled the risk of dying from 9% to 19%.
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Economic burden of lung diseases in Europe exceeds €370 billion

December 16 2013

A joint publication by the European Lung Foundation and European Respiratory Society provides detailed statistics on lung health in Europe. 1 in 8 deaths in the EU are as a result of respiratory disease and 6 million people are admitted to hospital each year. It is estimated for several diseases that this represents the “tip of the iceberg”, as many disease deaths are improperly recorded (report). Lung disease is often complicated by fungal infection. The report concludes that there are almost 10 million people under the age of 45 living with asthma in Europe, of which approximately 1 million have severe asthma which difficult to manage clinically. It is thought that around 50% of patients with severe asthma have sensitisation to various fungi (SAFS), of which Aspergillus fumigatus is the most common.
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Efinaconazole gets its first global approval

December 04 2013

A new topical antifungal, efinaconazole, has been approved in Canada and is undergoing regulatory review in the United States and Japan. For years, onychomycosis nail infections have been treated with topical antifungal agents such as amorolfine, or systemic antifungal drugs such as terbinafine or itraconazole. Response rates to topical therapy are low and oral therapy occasionally results in skin or liver toxicity reactions. Efinaconaozle, a triazole antifungal, inhibits 14α-demethylase—the enzyme responsible for conversion of sterols in fungal cell walls. It is administered as a 10% topical solution. A recent phase III international trial showed that it completely cured between 15.2-17.8% of subjects, compared to 3.3-5.5% in the control groups, defined as no fungal involvement in the nail as determined by KOH testing and a negative culture sample after one year. By using a secondary endpoint of <5% clinical involvement and 100% mycological cure, between 23.4-26.4% of patients were completely cured.
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