Deadly human fungal infections caused by certain strains of Aspergillus fungi appear to be developing resistance to current drug treatments at an alarming rate, say scientists.
University of Manchester researchers, working with colleagues in Newark, USA, have developed a new test that can not only better diagnose Aspergillus infection, but can also spot signs of antifungal resistance to azoles – the class of drugs used to treat patients with aspergillosis.
Using the new test, which uses direct molecular detection rather than culturing the fungus in a Petri dish, the team found that 55% of aspergillosis patients had telltale signs known as ‘markers’ that indicated they had developed resistance to azoles. The findings compare to resistance rates of 28% carried out by the team just two years ago using traditional culturing methods.
Furthermore, the study – published in the prestigious US journal Clinical Infectious Diseases – discovered azole-resistance markers in three-quarters of the small number of aspergillosis patients (eight) whom had never been treated with an azole, suggesting widespread dissemination of resistance.