Independent June 26th "A 21 year old medical student spending her holidays doing work experience at a hospital made a major breakthrough in the treatment of cystic fibrosis. Jo Armstead, 21, spent hundreds of hours examining medical data from 30 countries and discovered that there are over 75,000 people with the genetic disorder, of whom half are over 18 years - with 50 per cent infected by the fungus, Aspergillus. Experts said the finding could help prolong the lives of patients with the debilitating lung condition, as well as help diagnose it where it had not been detected at birth."
The research has now been published in prestigious scientific journal Plos One, view article ; view interview
It is known that CF patients have an increased chance of getting aspergillosis -diagnosed mainly as ABPA and estimates that 10 - 15% of all CF patients have this allergic infection, and more will eventually get the more invasive (Aspergillus bronchitis) is now recognised in CF patients, this worsens the prognosis for CF patients.
Aspergillus spp. can lead to allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (ABPA), Aspergillus sensitisation and Aspergillus bronchitis in CF patients. The relative frequencies of these entities have recently been ascertained in a large UK adult CF cohort. We have used this data to estimate the burden of aspergillosis and ABPA cases in adult CF patients in 30 countries reporting CF.
National and international CF registry data was accessed and assessed for completeness and age distribution. Published proportions of ABPA (17.7%), Aspergillus sensitisation (14.6%) andAspergillus bronchitis (30%) in CF were applied to those >18 years and compared with notified ABPA cases. Of the 76,201 estimated CF patients worldwide (not including India), 37,714 were >18 years. The proportion of adults to children varied from 63% in Norway to 20% in Brazil. ABPA caseload in adults is anticipated to be 6,675 cases of which only 2,221 cases (33%) are currently recorded, indicating substantial underdiagnosis.
Country registries for CF have been ongoing for years, but never before has the problem infection aspergillosis been estimated. The UK has the second highest number of adult CF sufferers (5290), second only to the USA (13,657).