Boost for lung infection research with new UK-Brazil partnership.
The University of Manchester has begun a new partnership with a Brazilian university to carry out more research into a fungal lung infection which affects at least three million people worldwide and is 75% fatal.
The researchers from Manchester are joining colleagues from the Escola Paulista de Medicina-Federal University of Sao Paulo (UNIFESP) to examine the prevalence and treatment of chronic pulmonary aspergillosis.
This infection is thought to affect over 17,850 people in Brazil, with 5,600 new cases every year. Follow up of patients with tuberculosis in Brazil in the 1980’s showed 21% to have evidence of Aspergillus infection, similar to the UK.
Yet chronic pulmonary aspergillosis is rarely diagnosed or treated in Brazil, because of a lack of awareness and diagnostic testing. As well as those with tuberculosis, patients with AIDS, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are also susceptible to this infection, so actual numbers of sufferers may be twice what is currently recorded.
The University of Manchester’s Professor David Denning is Director of the National Aspergillosis Centre based at the University Hospital of South Manchester and will lead the UK side of the new initiative.
He said: “While we treat nearly 400 UK patients with this condition, across the world, there are estimated to be about 3 million. Currently very few are diagnosed or treated, and after five years about 75% have died. This international program will have an impact throughout Brazil and Latin America.”
Funded by the Sao Paolo Research Foundation with matching funds from The University of Manchester, the programme encourages scientific exchange between universities in Sao Paolo and Manchester, and will involve a study of patients from 17 hospitals in the Brazilian city.
Professor Arnaldo Lopes Colombo of (UNNIFESP) added: “This collaboration is of the utmost importance to Brazil in view of the huge number of undiagnosed fungal infections in the country. We aim to really understand who gets this long term, difficult to treat infection and improve our diagnostic techniques across the country.”
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The National Aspergillosis Centre (www.nationalaspergillosiscentre.org.uk) is the UK’s referral clinic for patients with chronic pulmonary aspergillosis and related conditions. It was established five years ago and is housed at the University Hospital of South Manchester and funded through the National Health Service Specialised Services.
The Aspergillus Website (www.aspergillus.org.uk) was set up in 1998 by the Fungal Infection Trust. It is the most comprehensive source of information about Aspergillus and the diseases it causes available on the Internet. An estimated 75,000 distinct IP addresses log on monthly and over 200,000 other websites link to the Aspergillus Website. Well over 70% of users in any month are new visitors from over 125 countries. Over 1000 patients are currently registered with the support discussion group on Yahoo! with another 150 on Facebook with 280 LinkedIn members (Aspergillus and Aspergillosis Group).