LOS ANGELES – (Feb. 6, 2014) – With very few treatment options available to fight deadly mucormycosis infections, a new Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute (LA BioMed) study holds hope for adding to the arsenal of therapies physicians have to combat an increasingly common infection afflicting people with weakened immune systems.
An LA BioMed research team reported in an online, ahead-of-print study in the Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy journal that the investigational drug isavuconazole was as effective in reducing mucormycosis infections in disease models as the most widely used treatment currently on the market, high-dose liposomal amphotericin B. Isavuconazole is an investigational once-daily intravenous and oral broad-spectrum antifungal for the potential treatment of severe invasive and life-threatening fungal infections. It is currently in phase 3 of clinical development.
"Expanding the options for fighting these deadly infections is especially important for patients who can't tolerate current treatments or whose infections may not respond to the antifungals on the market today," said Ashraf S. Ibrahim, PhD, an LA BioMed lead researcher and the corresponding author for the study. "With such a limited number of treatments available, developing new therapies is critical to increasing the number of people who survive these extremely lethal infections. "
Patients with weakened immune systems, hyperglycemia, acidosis (diabetic ketoacidosis or other forms of acidosis), malnutrition, or trauma patients are at increased risk of mucormycosis infection. Despite the current treatments and surgeries available to treat mucormycosis, more than half of patients with the infections die.
"Clearly, new strategies for preventing and treating mucormycosis are urgently needed," the researchers concluded.
They examined the most common form of this deadly infection, mucormycosis due to Rhizopus delemar, and concluded that their results support the further development of isavuconazole.
This work was supported by Public Health Service grant R01 AI063503 and a research and educational grant from Astellas Pharma US to Dr. Ibrahim. Astellas Pharma is co-developing isavuconazole with Basilea Pharmaceutica Ltd.
Researchers contributing to the study were: Teclegiorgis Gebremariam, Guanpingsheng Luo, Hongkyu Lee, John E. Edwards Jr. and Laura Kovanda.
About LA BioMed
Founded in 1952, LA BioMed is one of the country's leading nonprofit independent biomedical research institutes. It has approximately 100 principal researchers conducting studies into improved diagnostics and treatments for cancer, inherited diseases, infectious diseases, illnesses caused by environmental factors and more. It also educates young scientists and provides community services, including prenatal counseling and childhood nutrition programs. LA BioMed is academically affiliated with the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and located on the campus of Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. For more information, please visit http://www.LABioMed.org
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