June 19, 2015
from
Duke Medicine News and Communications

Duke Human Vaccine Team Awarded Up to $9 million To Study Fungal Fever

DURHAM, N.C. – The Duke Human Vaccine Institute’s Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit has received an initial award of approximately $5 million from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) to support further research on Valley Fever Pneumonia.  Total funding could be up to $9 million over the course of the contract if all contract options are exercised.  

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.

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. Major goals of this trial are to improve the recognition and management of early onset Valley Fever and to enhance community awareness. Partnering with primary care facilities in the highly endemic regions and utilization of specific tests for this disease much earlier than usual will enhance the likelihood of success.

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.

Duke will collaborate with health care systems and academic leaders located in the endemic regions. Susanna Naggie, M.D., director of Infectious Diseases Research at DCRI, and Emmanuel Walter, M.D., principal investigator of Duke’s Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit, will lead the study. Valley Fever experts from the endemic area will be included in an advisory capacity.

The NIAID is part of the National Institutes of Health.