UTSA Receives $6.8 Million in NIH Funding to Establish Research Center Targeting Valley Fever | UTSA today | UTSA

There are approximately 380,000 new cases in the United States each year. This fungal infection can lead to a wide range of disorders, ranging from self-limited flu-like symptoms to progressive lung destruction and life-threatening meningitis if disseminated.

The SA-CCRC will support applied clinical research and also house an extensive network of experts and collaborators from partner institutions across the country. Members of the center will include senior researchers with knowledge and technical expertise in coccidioidomycosis as well as emerging researchers attracted to this area of ​​medical mycology.

Chiung Yu HungAssociate Professor in the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at UTSA, is an expert researcher in the field of Coccidioides. His experience spans the development of therapeutics, diagnostics and vaccines against Coccidioides infections. She has also used multidisciplinary approaches including molecular biology, cell biology and immunological techniques to study host-pathogen interactions.

“Currently, there is no FDA-approved vaccine for this respiratory fungal infection and approximately one-third of clinical isolates of Coccidioides species display in vitro resistance to commonly used antifungal drugs such as fluconazole,” Hung said. “There is an urgent and unmet need to develop better and safer therapeutic drugs and a human vaccine to prevent this fungal disease which can sometimes spread beyond the lungs to other vital organs including skin, bones, liver, heart and brain.”

“Dr. Hung, along with the team she has assembled, exemplifies how UTSA researchers are tackling real-world challenges to meet an ever-growing critical need,” Arulanandam added.

Hung will lead a research team at the center that seeks to develop a human vaccine with recombinant antigen and mRNA technologies. The team will study protective immunity measures against coccidioidomycosis. Joining Hung is Jose Lopez-RibotUTSA College of Science faculty member with over 30 years of experience in the field of medical mycology and NIH grant co-PI.

“San Antonio has a rich tradition of excellence in the study of fungal infections, with a large and very cooperative group of medical mycologists,” Lopez-Ribot said. “We are honored to have been selected by the NIH to establish this collaborative center to advance research and treatment, and train the next generation of scientists on these devastating infections.”

Members of the center will include professors Astrid Cardon, Brian Herman, Soo Chan Lee, Karl Klose, Stephane Saville, Yufeng Wang and Jieh-Juen Yu UTSA; JThomas F. Patterson and Nathan Wiederhold from UT Health San Antonio; George Thompson from the University of California at Davis; and Gary Ostroff from the University of Massachusetts Chan School of Medicine.

“We have worked with Lopez-Ribot and Hung on the development of new treatments for coccidioidomycosis and we look forward to continuing this important collaboration,” said Patterson, professor and chief of infectious diseases at Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long School. of Medicine at UT Health. San Antonio. Patterson is also director of the San Antonio Center for Medical Mycology.

“Coccidioidomycosis is a significant fungal pathogen in the Southwestern United States, including San Antonio, and can cause devastating infections, including meningitis, that currently require lifelong treatment,” Patterson added. “Wiederhold and colleagues at the UT Health San Antonio Mushroom Testing Laboratory showed that the resistance of Coccidioides to frequently used antifungal drugs is common, so the development of new therapies and approaches such as vaccines is essential.

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