Aspergillosis, lung and sinus disease caused by the fungus Aspergillus, affects around 15 million people and kills over 1 million each year. Announced at the 8th biennial Advances against Aspergillosis international conference in Lisbon starting on February 1st (World Aspergillosis Day), are the 5 Aspirational targets for aspergillosis to be achieved by 2030:
- Survival in invasive aspergillosis increased to 90% (up from under 50%)
- New antifungal agents licensed for all major forms of pulmonary aspergillosis (invasive, chronic and allergic) and for all age groups (only 3 classes currently available)
- The biological, immunological and genetic basis of aspergillosis understood (major gaps in our understanding currently)
- Diagnostics (standardised and clinically validated) for disease widely available and simple screening tests developed (most countries, including all of Africa have no diagnostic capability at all)
- At least one vaccine against aspergillosis in clinical trials or approved (none currently).
Global Action Fund for Fungal Infections (GAFFI) at the conference opening session, Professor David Denning, President of the Global Action Fund for Fungal Diseases (GAFFI) and the University of Manchester spoke on behalf of patients, doctors, and researchers in calling for radical improvements. Because diagnostics are not available in so many countries and cities, hundreds of thousands of people unknowingly die or are disabled by aspergillosis, yet could be saved or cured. He said:
“I have been looking after patients with aspergillosis for over 35 years, and yet we still lose patients and see too many people severely affected by this common fungus. I contributed to many clinical studies bringing the first effective oral drugs to patients (itraconazole and voriconazole), and yet the burden and deaths remain huge. Nothing less than a concerted international effort is required to address huge disparities in aspergillosis frequency.”