The Drug Could Treat Allergic Reactions in Cystic Fibrosis Patients, Among Other Serious Conditions, Explains Dr. Richard Moss, Emeritus Professor of Pediatrics at Stanford University
PALO ATLO, CA / ACCESSWIRE / June 26, 2017 / Dr. Richard B. Moss, Emeritus Professor of Pediatrics and former chief of the Pediatric Pulmonary and Allergy Divisions at Stanford University, today highlights an important advance in the treatment of fungal infections in the lungs - an innovative inhaled drug candidate from a Massachusetts-based company, Pulmatrix, Inc. (PULM). Dr. Moss is a member of Pulmatrix's scientific advisory board.
"Most of us don't know that the air we breathe is laden with the spores of many different types of fungi and molds," Dr. Moss explains. Usually, this doesn't pose a problem in healthy people. Our immune systems normally are fully capable of neutralizing the spores and preventing the growth of fungus and mold in our bodies.
But in too many cases, the natural protections break down, especially in people with compromised immune systems or lung function. That can cause both serious infections and allergic reactions. "Fungal infections in the lungs and allergic reactions can be serious and are an under-appreciated medical issue," Dr. Moss says.
The problem is particularly acute in cystic fibrosis. Up to half of all patients suffer from fungal infections in their lungs, usually are caused by the spore-forming mold Aspergillus fumigatus. The infection, in turn, can cause a debilitating allergic reaction, known as allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis or ABPA.
It's possible to fight those lung infections with oral anti-fungal drugs, like itraconazole. But side effects, including liver toxicity, can be severe, because getting sufficient amounts of the drug to the lungs through the bloodstream requires giving high oral doses.
Doctors have hoped for a better treatment - delivering drug directly to the lungs by having patients breathe it in. Unfortunately, standard inhalers haven't been able to do this, says Dr. Moss.
Pulmatrix, however, was able to create small, dense particles that fly easily into the lungs. The company then attached the anti-fungal drug itraconazole to the particles. As a result, preclinical studies show, the approach can efficiently deliver the drug at high concentrations directly to the lungs where it is needed, with very little entering the bloodstream.
"This is a significant advance," says Moss. "For the first time, we may be able to treat serious fungal lung infections and the allergies those infections cause without potentially dangerous systemic side effects and drug-drug interactions of using oral drugs."
Dr. Richard B. Moss
SOURCE: Pediatrics of Stanford University