Today’s U.S. health and disease statistics from public health authorities such as the Center for Disease Control reveal that approximately 30,000 Americans are living with cystic fibrosis (CF), a hereditary, chronic disorder of the mucous glands that causes them to secrete excessive, thick mucous. This buildup of mucus, especially in the respiratory and digestive tract, can harbor harmful pathogens such as bacteria, fungi and mold, and easily cause life-threatening complications.
A team of researchers from the University of Manchester recently completed a study that sparked interest from a group of health professionals from the organization LA Testing that specialize in fungi and mold proliferation problems indoors. The investigators warned that cystic fibrosis patients must not be exposed to spaces with an overgrowth of mold, particularly, Aspergillus — a fungi commonly found in soil, on living and decaying plants, dust, and structures that have sustained water damage.
According to the study, which drew information from pooled patient records across 30 countries, nearly half of all adults diagnosed with CF also had an Aspergillus infection, which causes a fungal disease caused Aspergillosis. Bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (ABPA), one of the milder forms of the disease, causes some wheezing and coughing, without necessarily damaging lung tissue. The more dangerous type, invasive aspergillosis, commonly affects those with compromised immune systems and can cause severe organ tissue damage throughout the body.
The Vice President of Microbiology and Life Sciences at LA Testing and EMSL Analytical, Inc., Jason Dobranic, Ph.D., said that while it is generally unsafe for anyone to be exposed to large overgrowths of Aspergillus, the new information from this study makes it all the more crucial for individuals with CF to avoid known sources of this fungus. This particular study was interesting to the company because they specialize in services and products designed to detect the density of Aspergillus and other microorganism growths in the environment.
Usually the body can fend off common microorganisms, but it is a difficult case for cystic fibrosis patients when their mucous build-up forms an ideal medium for pathogen growth. Investigators from The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Ohio are working on immunotherapy for CF patients through the use of interferon gamma (IFN-γ) to stimulate macrophages.