|As reported earlier in these blogs, fungal infections are generally underestimated as a cause of illness and death. About 25% of all humans have a chronic fungal infection of the skin or nails. At least 50% of all women of childbearing age suffer at least one lifetime episode of vulvovaginal Candidiasis and 5-8% have 4 of more episodes annually. Invasive fungal infections cause roughly 1.5 million worldwide deaths annually.|
Karl Clemons et al. Whole glucan particles as a vaccine against systemic cocidioidomycosis. Journal of Medical Mycology, 2015; In Press.
More than 90% of fungal related deaths come from 4 genera: Candida, Aspergillus, Cryptococcus, and Pneumocystis. Many invasive fungal infections are hard to diagnose at the early and most treatable stages of infection. Immunocompromised patients like HIV, leukemia/lymphoma patients, and those on immunosupressive drugs for bone/organ transplant are at an especially high risk for life-threatening invasive fungal infections.
Currently, there are no good vaccines to prevent fungal infections, although some research in this area is being conducted. New research has employed using glucan particles from the common yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Studies with laboratory mice have reported that vaccination with glucans from S. cerevisiae can provide considerable, but not total, protection against life threatening fungal infections from Aspergillus or Coccidioides.
Other experimental animal research has reported that vaccination with heat killed Saccharomyces cerevisiae can significantly reduce risk of life-threatening infections of 5 different fungal pathogens including Aspergillus, Candida albicans, Cryptococcus grubi, Mucor ,and Coccidioides posadasi. In the future, use of heat killed yeasts and/or their glucans may be used as a pan-fungal vaccine to protect against infection of many types of fungi.
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