by Madhumathi Palaniappan on  December 15, 2016 at 1:04 PM Health Watch
  • Pneumocystis pneumonia is the fungal infection of the lungs in immune-compromised patients.
  • A research team from the University of Cincinnati offers new insights to identify drug therapy for pneumocystis pneumonia.
  • Identifying a new drug to inhibit the inositol transporter will help to combat pneumocystis.

New Insights to Combat Pneumocystis
Pneumocystis fungi can survive in the lungs of immune-compromised individuals and can cause fatal pneumonia.

A research team from the University of Cincinnati have offered new insights to identify novel drug therapy for treating pneumocystis pneumonia.

Pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia is the fungal infection of the lungs. It is also called as pneumocystis carini or PCP Pneumonia. It mainly causes lung infection in people with weak immune system.

The research study, "Functional characterization of the Pneumocystis carinii Inositol Transporter 1" is published online in the MBio journal.

Melanie T. Cushion, Ph.D, senior associate dean for research, professor of internal medicine, University of Cincinnati, explained that Pneumocystis require a sugar- like nutrient inositol from the mammalian lung to be transported using a specific transporter for life.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Pneumocystis pneumonia is approximately 9% in hospitalized HIV/AIDS patients and 1% among organ transplant patients.

Cushion, said, "Identifying a drug to inhibit the transporter will kill these fungi because they can't synthesize inositol as they lack two enzymes to do so."

"The transporters in humans and Pneumocystis are sufficiently different that inhibitors of the fungal transporter are not likely to impact the mammalian transporters. If that's the case, no toxicity is expected with this new line of drugs."

Pneumocystis fungi are immune to common anti-fungal therapies and standard treatments like trimethoprim - sulfamethoxazole. This may lead to life-threatening allergic reactions.

Scientists found the fungus to be highly selective for inositol and identified that they were not able to transport other molecules.

The author also said that Pneumocystis jirovecii infection in HIV/AIDS patients can cause lethal pneumonia (PCP) despite using antiretroviral drug therapy.

The number of deaths from PCP was found to be 15% in HIV patients who live in the United States. However the mortality rate may increase to 80% in the developing parts of the country.

New advancements in combating Pneumocystis may also help patients who have undergone transplantation and who are on immunosuppressive drugs receiving therapies for rheumatoid arthritis.

Common Causes for Pneumocystis jiroveci Pneumonia
  • Cancer
  • Organ Transplantation
  • Long term use of corticosteroids
  • Patients who have a weakened immune system
Facts on Pneumocystis

  • Carlos Chagas discovered Pneumocystis in 1906.
  • Pneumocystis occurs in two main forms - trophic form and the cyst form.
  • A specific diagnostic measure is required to detect Pneumocystis as most of the infections are similar to one another.
  • Oral Trimethoprim- Sulphamethoxazole (TMP-SMX) therapy is recommended for 21 days to treat mild to moderate form of the disease.
  • Pneumocystis colonization is responsible for bronchiolitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease(COPD) in HIV patients.
  • Reference :
    1. Pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia - (
    1. Pneumocystis pneumonia - (
    1. Pneumocystis (carinii) jirovecii - (

    Source: Medindia

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