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Researchers show chronic sinusitis is immune disorder; antifungal medicine effective treatment

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Researchers at the University at Buffalo and the Mayo Clinic have shown that chronic sinusitis is an immune disorder caused by fungus, opening up a promising new avenue for treating this ubiquitous and debilitating condition, for which there is no FDA-approved therapy.

Results of their research suggest that common airborne fungi lodge in the mucus lining of the sinuses in most people, but initiate an immune response only in individuals prone to chronic sinusitis. The immune response causes the fungi to be attacked, which leads to damage of the sinus membranes, resulting in full-blown symptoms.

"We hope this study will lead to the first treatment aimed at the root cause of chronic sinusitis, rather than a treatment just to mask the symptoms," said David A. Sherris, M.D., interim chair of the UB Department of Otolaryngology.

Sherris presented the study findings today (March 23, 2004) at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology in San Francisco. The research was conducted while Sherris was at the Mayo Clinic.

Through a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind pilot trial using the fungicide Amphotericin-B applied intranasally, the researchers found that the treatment group showed a significant decrease in the inflammatory thickening of the sinus membranes compared to the control group.

Inflammation in the mucus also decreased significantly in those receiving the drug, compared to placebo, and 70 percent of patients on the medication had a decrease in the amount of nasal swelling, results showed.

"We showed in 1999 that fungal organisms were present in the mucus of 96 percent of patients who had surgery for chronic sinusitis, and that inflammatory cells were clumped around the fungi, which indicated to us that the condition was an immune disorder caused by fungus, " said Sherris. "But many doctors didn't believe us."

"Next, we conducted various immunologic studies and an
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Contact: Lois Baker
ljbaker@buffalo.edu
716-645-5000 x1417
University at Buffalo
23-Mar-2004


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