LA BioMed Leads Groundbreaking Studies on Deadly Infectious Disease

Mucormycosis is a drug-resistant fungal infection that attacks patients with weakened immune systems and those who have suffered significant trauma. The infection can be easily missed by physicians because it is so rare and reliable diagnostic assay is lacking. Even when correctly diagnosed, it is often far too late and after the infection has spreads rapidly to vital organs, making most therapies ineffective. The mortality rate for those infected with mucormycosis is around 50%, according to the U.S. centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A pair of recent studies led by LA BioMed researchers published in leading peer-reviewed research journals show that simple diagnostic systems can detect mucormycosis earlier in patients and that the biological makeup of the fungus could open the door for the development of effective therapies.

The first study, PCR-based approach targeting Mucorales specific gene family for the diagnosis of mucormycosis, was published in the August edition of the Journal of Microbiology. Researchers found that mucormycosis can be identified within 24 hours post infection by targeting specific gene family, CotH, in blood and urine tests. The breakthrough shows that mucormycosis can be diagnosed earlier with simple techniques - if physicians know what to look for.

"It’s giving us hope that we can develop a simple diagnostic system to tell clinicians a patient has mucormycosis early on," said LA BioMed researcher Ashraf Ibrahim, Ph.D. "Right now, we don’t have simple, rapid diagnostic tools and clinicians are often left guessing. If a therapy can be applied early on in the infection, it will dramatically increase that chance of survival."

The second study, Iron restriction inside macrophages regulates pulmonary host defense against Rhizopus species, was published in the August edition of Nature Communications. Reserachers found that the organisms that cause Mucormycosis escape treatment by going into white blood cells and staying dormant. Once treatment stops, they come back and kill the blood cells and infect the organs again. The groundbreaking discovery may lead the way to effective therapies to stop mucormycosis from spreading.

"These studies are significant breakthroughs that serve as the first step into developing a weapon to fight against a deadly disease," said David Meyer, Ph.D, president and chief executive officer of LA BioMed. "The talented and dedicated researchers at LA BioMed are once again paving the way in discovering pathways to new scientific and medical achievements."