Duke Human Vaccine Team awarded $5 million to study fungal fever

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Duke Human Vaccine Institute’s Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit has been awarded a $5 million contract from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease to support further research on Valley Fever Pneumonia.

Valley Fever Pneumonia is caused by the fungal pathogens Coccidioides posadasii and Coccidioides immitis, which primarily live in soil. Valley Fever is endemic in certain parts of the southwestern United States, including Arizona and California.

Duke will collaborate with health care systems and academic leaders located in the endemic regions. Susanna Naggie, MD, director of Infectious Diseases Research at DCRI and associate professor of medicine (Infectious Diseases), and Emmanuel Walter, MD, principal investigator of Duke’s Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit and professor of pediatrics, will lead the study.

The primary goals of the clinical trial are to assess the safety and efficacy of the anti-fungal medicine fluconazole as treatment for people in affected regions who develop pneumonia.

People generally contract the illness by breathing in microscopic fungal spores from the air after the soil has been disrupted. Most people exposed to the fungus never have symptoms. When symptomatic, the clinical presentations of Valley Fever range from a non-specific and self-limited fever to pneumonia or meningitis.

The Duke Human Vaccine Institute will partner with the Duke Clinical Research Institute, the world’s largest academic research organization known for conducting multinational clinical trials, to perform this study.