Fungal Disease Awareness Week: Novel antifungals essential to tackle antifungal resistance, says GlobalData

This week (18-22 September) marks Fungal Disease Awareness Week (FDAW) in the US, an annual event in which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and partners promote activities and outreach that encourage everyone to “Think Fungus”. This often-underestimated health burden is the focus of webinars and interactive events designed to encourage awareness and understanding. In a world facing rising incidents of fungal diseases, GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, emphasizes the urgency of tackling this challenge.

Anaelle Tannen, Infectious Disease Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “Fungal diseases are often presumed to be more bothersome than serious, and many individuals are unaware of the impact that these mycoses can have on human health. However, as the burden of invasive fungal infections is increasing globally, there is a pressing need to improve awareness and understanding of these infections.”

GlobalData estimates that there were over 3 million incident cases of invasive fungal infections across the 16MM* in 2022, of which aspergillosis, candidiasis, cryptococcosis, and pneumocystis pneumonia were major contributors.

Incident cases of invasive fungal infections are also expected to escalate in the coming years, in part, due to the impact of climate change. For example, with increasing global temperatures, some fungi may expand their habitats to encompass new warmer regions, such as Cdeuterogattii which has emerged in the temperate regions of western Canada and the Pacific northwest of North America in recent years.

Furthermore, medical advances over recent decades have led to a global increase in the number of immunocompromised individuals, such as organ transplant recipients or those living with or HIV/AIDS, with these patients being much more susceptible to invasive fungal infections.

Tannen adds: “Antifungal resistance is also a major problem, as some fungi no longer respond to any antifungal treatments, which contributes to high rates of morbidity and mortality associated with invasive fungal infections. In order to combat the growing resistance to existing drugs, it is essential that new therapeutic candidates in development utilize novel mechanisms of action.”

According to GlobalData, there are over 170 antifungal agents in the pipeline. Whilst many of these are based on established mechanisms of actions, there are some that utilize more novel approaches, such as Pfizer’s fosmanogepix (a GPI anchored wall transfer protein 1 (PfGWT1) inhibitor) in Phase II development for candidiasis**.

Tannen concludes: “Fungal Disease Awareness Week highlights the burgeoning impact of fungal infections and stresses the urgency to tackle antifungal resistance. It is hoped that advances with novel antifungal therapies in development will help to address the major unmet need of limited treatment options within this market.”

*Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, UK, and US.

**Agent is also in development for other fungal infections including Phase I development for coccidioidomycosis.

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