Fungal Infections take huge human and economic cost, hard to treat with antibodies, fungal vaccines unavailable.
Worldwide, fungal infections cause at estimated 1.6 million deaths a year with costs of about $72 billion (1). Rates of life-threatening fungal infections has been growing rapidly in recent decades as the number of immunocompromised patients (HIV+, cancer, those on immunosuppressive drugs for organ transplants or anti-immune drugs) have skyrocketed. Many invasive fungal infections such as Aspergillus and invasive Candidiasis are hard to treat with antifungal drugs and have high mortality rates even with appropriate antibiotic and hospital treatment (1). Currently, there are no commercially available vaccines to prevent fungal diseases (2). Many researchers believe that research is being seriously underfunded to develop antibiotic drugs and vaccines to prevent and treat fungal infections.
Besides vaccine development another promising mode to control fungi is through the use of monoclonal antibodies which would involve passive immunity (1, 2). In late 2017 there were 72 monoclonal antibodies and related fusion proteins used in clinical medicine- with more than 1,000 at some stage of development (3). The worldwide annual sales of monoclonal antibody drugs are expected to exceed $125 billion by 2020 (1).
MONOCLONAL ANTIBODY RESEARCH TO PREVENT AND TREAT MANY FUNGAL INFECTIONS- CANDIDA
Mouse experiments have reported that monoclonal antibodies have been useful to treat and prevent Candida infections (1, 2). Several mouse studies have examined the effects of treating and preventing infections of dimorphic fungi including Histoplasma capsulatum, Paracoccidioides brasiliensis, and Sporothrix schenckii (2). Several research studies with mice have yielded promising results in preventing and treating infections of Aspergillus and Mucor fungi (2). Other animal research has examined the effects of monoclonal antibody drugs to treat other invasive fungal infections including those from Cryptococcus, Paraccocidioides, Coccidioides, Pneumocystis, and Blastomyces (1). Much more research is need to develop fungal vaccines past the animal experimental stage into human clinical trials and regulatory approval.
Research and References:
1. Boniche C, Rossi SA, Kischkel B, Barbalho FV, Moura AND, Nosanchuk JD, et al. Immunotherapy against Systemic Fungal Infections Based on Monoclonal Antibodies. Journal of fungi (Basel, Switzerland). 2020;6(1).
2. Ulrich S, Ebel F. Monoclonal Antibodies as Tools to Combat Fungal Infections. Journal of fungi (Basel, Switzerland). 2020;6(1).
3. Dos Santos ML QW, Manieieri TM, Tsuruta LR, Moro AM. Advances and Challenges in Therapeutic Drug Monoclonal antibodies drug development. Br J Pharm Sciences. 2018;54(Special):e1007.