Therapy Suggested for Rare Brain Infection

CALGARY, Alberta, May 10 (UPI) — A team of Canadian medical researchers says it has found a possible new therapy for Cryptococcus disease — a rare but serious brain infection.

University of Calgary scientists said the disease results from inhaling a toxic fungus often found in fir trees and can result in meningitis, pneumonia and in 10 percent of cases it can be fatal.

Little is known about how the fungus leaves the bloodstream and enters the brain, however, Drs. Meiqing Shi and Christopher Mody and their team used a mouse model to determine a class of therapeutic drugs already approved for other medical uses could stop the fungus from crossing the brain blood barrier and therefore reduce brain infection.

“While the therapy was tested in mice, we do think it could ultimately transition to humans,” said Mody, a professor of medicine and the study’s senior author. “The class of drugs we used in the study is already approved for use in humans for other conditions.”

There are 37 different species of Cryptococcus, with one of the highest rates of infection in the world occurring on Vancouver Island in Canada, Mody said.

The study that included Paul Kubes, director of the university’s Snyder Institute for Infection, Immunity and Inflammation, appears in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

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