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Does the use of azole fungicides in crop protection encourage resistance in the human fungal pathogen Aspergillus fumigatus?

Wheat

21 July 2017

A recent UK Government report highlighted the problem of antibiotic resistance, and that patients were at risk because no effective alternatives were available. The report concluded that the problem was as serious as climate change. No mention was made of fungicide resistance, even though affecting control of several human fungal pathogens, including Candida, Cryptococcus and Aspergillus. Several oral azole fungicides provide front-line treatment of these diseases. Although echinocandins are an alternative, they are less effective. Azoles are largely fungistatic rather than fungicidal, and so long-term therapy is often needed to contain infection to manageable levels. However, for immunocompromised patients following transplant surgery, and HIV patients, their lack of an immune system means these infections become fatal.

Derek W. Hollomon, a member of the Agrisciences Committee, has written an article on this subject following his presentation at a recent Committee meeting. In this piece, he outlines the use of azoles in medicine and crop protection and the concerns specifically surrounding resistance to the pathogen Aspergillus fumigatus. The report details emergence of azole resistance, their use in the environment and examines the evidence linking resistance with agricultural uses. For the full article please click here.

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