Fungal pill could provide asthma relief for sufferers

Dec 29, 2008

Up to 150,000 people suffering from severe asthma in the UK could benefit from taking antifungal medication already available from pharmacists, new research has found.

University of Manchester scientists found that pills used to treat everyday fungal infections greatly improved symptoms of asthma in those patients that had an allergic reaction to one or more fungi.

The study, carried out at four hospitals in northwest England and published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, is the first to show that antifungal therapy can improve the symptoms of those who suffer from severe asthma.

The researchers compared the oral antifungal drug itraconazole with a placebo over eight months and found that nearly 60% of patients taking the drug showed significant improvement in their symptoms.

"Only patients with a positive skin or blood test for fungal allergy were included in the study," said Professor David Denning, who is based at the University Hospital of South Manchester.

"Severe asthma affects between five and 10% of adult asthmatics and probably 25 to 50% of these patients showed allergy to one or more fungi. Since about 60% of those treated benefited from the treatment, we believe that antifungal therapy may be helpful in as many as 150,000 adults with asthma in the UK."

The clinical study of 58 patients at the University Hospital of South Manchester, Salford Royal, Royal Preston and North Manchester General hospitals showed statistically significant improvements in a validated quality of life score. Patients' asthma and nasal symptoms deteriorated within four months of stopping therapy.

Dr Robert Niven, from The University of Manchester and the University Hospital of South Manchester, said: "This pioneering study indicates that fungal allergy is important in some patients with severe asthma, and that oral antifungal therapy is worth trying in some difficult-to-treat patients. Clearly itraconazole will not suit everyone, and is not always helpful, but, when it is, the effect is dramatic."

Dr Ronan O'Driscoll, at Salford Royal Hospital, added: "It's good news for patients with severe asthma to have an existing anti-fungal drug recognised as having benefits for asthma patients with fungal allergy. We found that many patients were only picked up by extensive skin and blood test screening for fungal allergy, so a change of clinical practice will be required to identify all the patients who might respond to itraconazole."

Source: University of Manchester

Explore further: Malaysia quarantines 64 villagers over MERS virus

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Drug resistance fears over killer fungal disease

Jul 16, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Treatments for the most common airborne fungal disease are proving less effective due to increased resistance to the anti-fungal drugs used to combat infections.

Recommended for you

Malaysia quarantines 64 villagers over MERS virus

26 minutes ago

Malaysia has quarantined 64 people in a southern village after one of its residents become the country's first person to die of a respiratory illness that is spreading from the Middle East, local media reported Thursday.

Spate of Mideast virus infections raises concerns

56 minutes ago

A recent spate of infections from a frequently deadly Middle East virus is raising new worries about efforts to contain the illness, with infectious disease experts urging greater vigilance in combatting ...

New MRSA superbug emerges in Brazil

1 hour ago

An international research team led by Cesar A. Arias, M.D., Ph.D., at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) has identified a new superbug that caused a bloodstream infection ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Mercury_01
not rated yet Dec 29, 2008
Yeah, I heard that a tablespoon full of black mold spores inhaled from a paper bag will stop an asthma attack outright.

More news stories

Turning off depression in the brain

Scientists have traced vulnerability to depression-like behaviors in mice to out-of-balance electrical activity inside neurons of the brain's reward circuit and experimentally reversed it – but there's ...

Spate of Mideast virus infections raises concerns

A recent spate of infections from a frequently deadly Middle East virus is raising new worries about efforts to contain the illness, with infectious disease experts urging greater vigilance in combatting ...

Clean air: Fewer sources for self-cleaning

Up to now, HONO, also known as nitrous acid, was considered one of the most important sources of hydroxyl radicals (OH), which are regarded as the detergent of the atmosphere, allowing the air to clean itself. ...

Thinnest feasible nano-membrane produced

A new nano-membrane made out of the 'super material' graphene is extremely light and breathable. Not only can this open the door to a new generation of functional waterproof clothing, but also to ultra-rapid filtration. The ...

There's something ancient in the icebox

Glaciers are commonly thought to work like a belt sander. As they move over the land they scrape off everything—vegetation, soil, and even the top layer of bedrock. So scientists were greatly surprised ...