The development of novel technologies to diagnose and clinically treat invasive Aspergillus fumigatus infections is the scope of this research consortium. A. fumigatus is a ubiquitous mould whose spores are airborne and thus frequently inhaled. Humans with impaired immunity, e.g. those with haematological malignancies or bone marrow transplant recipients, are at a dramatically increased risk of severe, invasive A. fumigatus infection known as invasive aspergillosis (IA). IA is a rare disease in Europe but causes tremendous costs to the public health sector. Currently definitive diagnosis of IA is only obtained at autopsy or relies on invasive biopsy, an extremely unpleasant procedure which is not always applicable in suffering patients. Thus, a convenient, fast and specific diagnosis of IA is not available forcing clinicians to administer antifungal drugs on spec if a standard antibiotic treatment failed to reduce fever in risk patients. It would be of high financial benefit for clinics and has the potential to increase the survival rates of immuno-compromised patients, if a definitive diagnosis of IA could be obtained early and its response to treatment be monitored. This would allow applying the correct therapy at a dose and duration exactly tailored to patient needs. Equally important is the development of new treatment options which can replace existing systemic antifungal drugs with their known severe side effects. The approach of the consortium is to develop new disease specific tracers based on monoclonal antibodies along with the combined molecular imaging technologies PET/MR and PET/CT. Newly developed tracers shall then be functionalised by a combined labelling with radio-isotopes allowing diagnostic PET imaging but also immuno-radiotherapy, thus representing truly anti-infectious theranostics. This would provide a framework for new tools in the management not only of this rare but life-threatening mycosis but principally also for other infectious hazards.
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Funding SchemeCP-FP - Small or medium-scale focused research project
TR1 2NA Truro