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McMaster Team Discovers Widespread Drug-Resistance Amongst Strains of Aspergillus Fungi in Hamilton, Canada

Dr. Jianping Xu is a biology professor at McMaster University and a principal investigator at the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research. His research team is broadly interested in investigating antifungal resistance (AFR) from multiple perspectives.

Hamilton, ON (Sept. 21, 2018) – There is a significant and broadly distributed population of drug-resistant Aspergillus fungi in Hamilton, Ontario, new research at McMaster University has found.

Aspergillus fumigatus is a common fungal pathogen and a primary causative agent of aspergillosis – the collective name given to a wide range of illnesses that account for nearly 600,000 global deaths each year. Although the majority of aspergillosis cases can be managed with first-line antifungals called triazoles, strains of A. fumigatus are becoming increasingly triazole-resistant across the globe.

Amphotericin B (AMB) is a major antifungal medication that has been especially recommended by global experts for the management of aspergillosis caused by triazole-resistant strains of A. fumigatus. However, the identification of AMB-resistant strains throughout various parts of the world has given rise to increasing concern. In a recent study, Dr. Jianping Xu’s research team from the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research (IIDR) investigated the current pattern of AMB susceptibility in Hamilton, Ontario.

Upon examination of A. fumigatus isolates collected from various locations throughout the city, the team was astounded to find that widespread AMB resistance was not only vastly significant in Hamilton but far surpassed the extent of AMB resistance found in other parts of the world.

“Our work suggests that using AMB to manage Aspergillus fumigatus infections in Hamilton would likely result in treatment failure”, says Dr. Jianping Xu, McMaster Professor of Biology and IIDR principal investigator. “As AMB resistance is likely geography-specific, our results also indicate that the current global therapeutic recommendations for triazole-resistant strains of A. fumigatus should be modified based on region- and case-specific antifungal susceptibility data.”

Although the mechanisms for this observed resistance in Hamilton remains largely unknown and likely complex, the McMaster team aims to further study antifungal resistant pathogens to identify factors that could be impacting its initiation and spread throughout Ontario.

As antimicrobial resistance is rapidly becoming a problem of increasing global concern, such surveillance efforts are essential in reducing its threat and improving treatment outcomes.

Read the full publication here.

The common mold Aspergillus fumigatus is the main causative agent of aspergillosis – an illness that accounts for over a half-million annual deaths worldwide.


Christy Groves