Project: Monitoring for azole-resistant Aspergillus fumigatus (MARAf)
Funder: UKRI Natural Environment Research Council
We are all exposed to A. fumigatus spores on a daily basis, and our innate immune system deals with these spores when we inhale them to prevent them from reaching our lungs. However, if this innate immunity fails to clear the spores (due to illness or treatment that suppresses the immune system) the spores can reach the lung cavities and grow, causing an infection called aspergillosis.
Aspergillosis is treated with a range of drugs called azoles, but if spores are already azole-resistant when they are inhaled, the resulting infection will be more difficult to treat. It is important to note that the chances of developing aspergillosis are the same whether you inhale a susceptible and drug-resistant spore - it is your body's response to these spores that determine whether you develop the infection.
This project is a collaboration between the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH), Imperial College London, NIAB and The Open University to understand the UK-hotspots of azole resistant Aspergillus fumigatus in homes, recyclers and agriculture. UKCEH is leading the homes study which will involve the participation of citizen scientists to undertake sample collection to identify A. fumigatus spores in air and soil samples.