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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The State of Fungus in the US - A History, Part 2

Okay, here's the answer to the Trivia Question from yesterday's blog:

The first person to develop an antifungal agent was actually a collaborative effort by two women, Rachel F. Brown, an organic chemist, and Elizabeth L. Hazen, PhD. in Bacteriology and Immunology. In 1950, their 'fungicidin' to specifically combat C. neoformans and C. albicans, was presented to the National Academy of Science. Four years later it was approved by the FDA for sale as an antifungal agent, and the name was changed to nystatin, in honor of the state in which it was discovered - New York State.

The development of other antifungal agents in the United States followed suit, with geographical, military, CDC and other opportunities influencing their need. Unfortunately, the role of antibiotics masked the importance of antifungal agents, yet had not eliminated their need completely.

Concurrently, information regarding the presence of Aspergillis and Candida in medical reports for patients who had taken antibiotics started surfacing quietly. In fact, the AMA Council on Pharmacy and Chemistry mandated pharmaceutical agencies to report on packaging the hazard of using antibiotics and the association of Candida growth. Reports of mycotic disease related to antibiotic use continued to rise into the 60's, as did reports of fungal infections in patients taking hormone therapies.

Research on antibiotic use and its correlation with fungal pathogens helped urge the formation of the first Medical Mycology Society of Americas (MMSA) in the early 1960's, and elevated credibility of the United States in medical mycology and research as one of the top countries in the world.

The first image above left is Aspergillus. The second image above right is Candida albicans.

Resources: http://www.aspergillus.org.uk/secure/articles/pdfs/MM44supplement1/17050419.pdf

Monday, April 4, 2011

The State of Fungus in the US - A History, Part 1

The United States has taken a back seat to Europe in the study of medical mycology (study of fungi). It wasn't until the late 1940's that the United States focused on medical mycology as a separate science, not because pathogenic fungi was not studied by clinicians and researchers, but because mycology had been previously classified under pathology, microbiology, dermatology and bacteriology.

In 2003, Ana Victoria Espinel-Ingroff published Medical mycology in the United States: A historical analysis (1894-1996), a publication that became the milestone in the history of medical mycology in the United States. According to Espinel-Ingroff, "Lewis David von Schweinitz, of German origin, is regarded as the first American mycologist for his description and collection by the 1820s of over 1,300 fungi. However, it was not until the late 1890s that medical scientists began systematically to investigate fungi implicated in human disease."

One of the most well-known studies of fungal infection, first noted in the late 1890's and carrying into the 1940's by physicians and researchers, was "valley fever". It was isolated to the region of the San Joaquin Valley in California, and affected over 450 farm labourers and trainee soldiers. Studies found the fungal pathogen Coccidioides immitus had became airborne and entered the body through inhalation. This research was significant for medical mycology history because it encouraged other researchers to study the effects of fungal pathogens on humans, and brought attention to fungal disease as a major player in human disease.

Tune in tomorrow for more on The State of Fungus in the US - A History....
Here's a trivia question, "Who was the first person to develop an antifungal agent (drug)?"