September 18, 2008.
The European Science Foundation (ESF) has launched a new Research
Networking Programme, FUMINOMICS, to study the basic genetic and
molecular mechanisms employed by the fungus Aspergillus fumigatus when
infecting host cells. Infection with A. fumigatus is an increasing
clinical problem and often has lethal consequences for patients with a
compromised immune system. The four-year FUMINOMICS programme is
supported by 7 contributing ESF member organisations* and involves most
of the leading laboratories from several European countries. FUMINOMICS
will be kicked-off with the workshop ‘Transcriptomics and Molecular
Tools’ from 18-21 September in Giens, France.
Aspergillus fumigatus, a member of the large Aspergillus family of
filamentous fungi (moulds), is an ubiquitous mould that lives in the
soil and on plant debris and disperses its spores through the air. The
mould is harmless to most people, but for those with a seriously
diminished immune system, infection with A. fumigatus can be fatal. The
group most at risk are people who have undergone organ (bone marrow)
transplants and cancer treatment. In this group, infection with A.
fumigatus is often lethal, with mortality rates of 60-90% and occurs in
25 % of haematology patients. Diagnosis of invasive disease caused by A.
fumigatus is difficult (it is often mistaken for pneumonia), as is the
treatment of this type of infection.
Currently, A. fumigatus is already the most common cause of (clinical)
mould infections worldwide. Harmless as the mould may be for persons
with a normal defence system, there are still many cases known in which
infections with A. fumigatus resulted in severe disease or even death in
Until now, little is known of how A. fumigatus operates when infecting
host cells. Considering the increasing clinical impact of the mould,
fundamental research into its basic genetic mechanism is urgently
needed. The ESF Research Networking Programme FUMINOMICS will tackle the
basic questions surrounding
gene expression and
gene regulation of A. fumigatus through a multidisciplinary and fully
genomics approach that spans bioinformatics, transcriptomics,
molecular genetics and medicine.