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Diseases

Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Aspergillosis


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Your Question

I have a close relative affected by aspergillosis. Can you tell me if there are any new treatments on the horizon for this condition?

Our Answer

We have identified the following information that we hope you find helpful. If you still have questions, please contact us.

What is Aspergillus?

Aspergillus is a fungus (or mold) that is very common in the environment.  It is found in soil, on plants and in decaying plant matter (like compost).[1][2][3]It is also found in household dust, building materials, and even in spices and some food items. There are lots of different types of Aspergillus, but the most common ones are Aspergillus fumigatus and Aspergillus flavus.  Some others are Aspergillus terreus, Aspergillus nidulans, and Aspergillus niger.[2]
Last updated: 10/2/2013

What is aspergillosis?

Aspergillosis is an infection, growth, or allergic response caused by the Aspergillus fungus.[2] There are several different kinds of aspergillosis. One kind is allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (also called ABPA), a condition where the fungus causes allergic respiratory symptoms similar to asthma, such as wheezing and coughing, but does not actually invade and destroy tissue.[1][2] Another kind of aspergillosis is invasive aspergillosis. This infection usually affects people with weakened immune systems due to cancer, AIDS, leukemia, organ transplantation, chemotherapy, or other conditions or events that reduce the number of normal white blood cells. In this condition, the fungus invades and damages tissues in the body.[1][2] Invasive aspergillosis most commonly affects the lungs, but can also cause infection in many other organs and can spread throughout the body (commonly affecting the kidneys and brain).[3] Aspergilloma, a growth (fungus ball) that develops in an area of previous lung disease such as tuberculosis or lung abscess, is a third kind of aspergillosis.[2] This type of aspergillosis is composed of a tangled mass of fungus fibers, blood clots, and white blood cells. The fungus ball gradually enlarges, destroying lung tissue in the process, but usually does not spread to other areas.[3]
Last updated: 10/2/2013

How might aspergillosis be treated?

If the infection is widespread or the person appears seriously ill, treatment is started immediately.[3] Voriconazole is currently first-line treatment for invasive aspergillosis and is usually given intravenously.[1][2] There are other antifungal drugs that can be used to treat invasive aspergillosis in patients who cannot take voriconazole or who have not responded to voriconazole. These include itraconazole, lipid amphotericin formulations, caspofungin, micafungin, and posaconazole. Whenever possible, immunosuppressive medications should be discontinued or decreased.[1][3]

A fungus ball usually does not require treatment unless bleeding into the lung tissue is associated with the infection, then surgery is required. Antifungal agents do not help people with allergic aspergillosis. Allergic aspergillosis is treated with prednisone taken by mouth.[2]
Last updated: 10/2/2013

Are there clinical trials studying potential treatments for aspergillosis?

Yes. The U.S. National Institutes of Health, through the National Library of Medicine, developed ClinicalTrials.gov to provide patients, family members, and members of the public with current information on clinical research studies. You can find clinical trials for individuals with aspergillosis by clicking on the link above and using "aspergillosis" as your search term. After you click on a study, review its "eligibility" criteria to determine its appropriateness. Use the study’s contact information to learn more. Check this site often for regular updates.

You can also contact the Patient Recruitment and Public Liaison (PRPL) Office at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). We recommend calling the toll-free number listed below to speak with a specialist, who can provide you with additional assistance.

Patient Recruitment and Public Liaison Office
NIH Clinical Center
Bethesda, Maryland 20892-2655
Toll-free: 800-411-1222
Fax: 301-480-9793
Email: prpl@mail.cc.nih.gov
Web site:http://clinicalcenter.nih.gov/

Last updated: 10/2/2013

Where can I learn about new treatment options which may be on the horizon for aspergillosis?

You can find relevant journal articles on new treatments for aspergillosis through a service called PubMed, a searchable database of medical literature. Information on finding an article and its title, authors, and publishing details is listed here.  Some articles are available as a complete document, while information on other studies is available as a summary abstract. To obtain the full article, contact a medical/university library (or your local library for interlibrary loan), or order it online using the following link. Using "aspergillosis AND treatment" as your search term should locate articles. To narrow your search, click on the “Limits” tab under the search box and specify your criteria for locating more relevant articles. Click here to view a search.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?db=PubMed

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) Web site has a page for locating libraries in your area that can provide direct access to these journals (print or online). The Web page also describes how you can get these articles through interlibrary loan and Loansome Doc (an NLM document-ordering service). You can access this page at the following link http://nnlm.gov/members/. You can also contact the NLM toll-free at 888-346-3656 to locate libraries in your area.

Last updated: 10/2/2013

References
See Disclaimer regarding information on this site. Some links on this page may take you to organizations outside of the National Institutes of Health.