Immunotherapy may cause life-threatening fungal infection, research shows

Some immunotherapies and small molecule kinase inhibitors have been shown to cause "major fungal infections," according to a study led by a researcher from Nutley, N.J.-based Hackensack Meridian Center for Discovery and Innovation.

Jigar Desai, PhD, assistant member of the CDI and assistant professor of medical sciences at the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine, was the lead author on a paper published May 22 by Cell to "help doctors and scientists alike better understand how some of these cases arise  — and how to avoid them," according to a June 1 news release from Hackensack Meridian Health.

The paper demonstrated the protein C5a is key to fighting systemic fungal infections; however, the same protein is a target of some monoclonal antibody therapies, such as eculizumab/ravulizumab, according to the news release. The findings suggest that patients receiving these therapies should be closely monitored for fungal infections. 

David Perlin, PhD, chief scientific officer and executive vice president of the CDI who, like Dr. Desai, is an expert in fungal infections, said in the news release that life-threatening fungal diseases are "an emerging health problem, and it's key to have [Dr. Desai's] work to drive our understanding forward."

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