Not enough spent to beat hidden killer

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THE lack of rapid and robust diagnostic tests, safe and effective drugs and preventative vaccines is hampering the treatment of billions of people across the globe afflicted with invasive and potentially deadly fungal infections, say scientists.

The warning from experts at Aberdeen University follows a review into fungal disease published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

According to the researchers, not enough money is being spent on the “hidden killers” because the health threat they pose is not widely appreciated – even though more than 50 per cent of people who contract a severe invasive fungal infection may die from the disease.

The report, Hidden Killers: Human Fungal Infections, reveals that, in some parts of the world, serious fungal infections kill at least as many people as tuberculosis or malaria.

Gordon Brown, Professor of Immunology at the university and a member of the internationally-renowned Aberdeen Fungal Group, said: “It is the less common invasive fungal infections we are concerned about because these are associated with unacceptably high mortality rates. Many are responsible for infections which kill about 1.5 million people a year.”