Updated: Monday, 19th August 2019 @ 10:17am

Cystic Fibrosis breakthrough: Many sufferers have fungus in them, finds Manchester work experience student

Cystic Fibrosis breakthrough: Many sufferers have fungus in them, finds Manchester work experience student

| By Stefan Mackley

A medical student's discovery while on work experience in Manchester has found that half of those with Cystic Fibrosis are infected with fungi.

Jo Armstead, along with a team from the University of Manchester, discovered that sufferers of the genetic disorder were often infected by the fungus, Aspergillus.

The student, who is in her third year at Newcastle University Medical School, spent hundreds of hours accessing data from 30 countries to discover that there over 75,000 people with CF, half of whom have the fungus.

She said: “It has been really great to be involved in the first project of its kind ever done, with dramatic results and real opportunities for better health in young CF sufferers.”

Aspergillosis can cause airway infections, bronchitis, and allergy, known as ABPA, which starts in childhood and reaches a peak in late teenage years.

Treatment involves antifungal therapy or oral steroids, but these have proven not to be very effective, with antifungal resistance emerging.

Jo spent last summer working alongside Professor Denning, Director of the NHS National Aspergillosis Centre and Professor of Infectious Diseases in Global Health in the Faculty’s Institute of Inflammation and Repair.

“The life expectancy of people with CF has been increasing, but aspergillosis has a major negative impact on many,” he explained

“By painstakingly crunching the numbers, Jo has helped us better understand the scale of the challenge which will lead to better diagnostics and treatment strategies.

“There will be many patients who over the coming years will be grateful to Jo and her work.”

Registries for CF have been ongoing for years, but never before has the problem infection aspergillosis been accurately determined.

The UK currently has the second highest number of adult CF sufferers (5,290), second only to the USA (13,657).

Image courtesy of psit, with thanks.