Minh-Hong Nguyen, MD, has been awarded funding in the amount of $470,655 for a two-year grant by the National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIH/NIAID) entitled “Invasive aspergillosis complicating severe influenza.” This proposal was submitted in response to the competitive funding opportunity entitled NIH Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant Program (Parent R21) under funding opportunity number PA-19-053.

Invasive infections by Aspergillus fumigatus and other Aspergillus species are leading causes of mortality and morbidity among profoundly immunosuppressed hosts. Recently, invasive aspergillosis has been described as a complication of severe influenza infection, predominantly among patients who lack traditional aspergillosis risk factors. Despite an increasing number of case reports of influenza-associated aspergillosis (IAA), the incidence and clinical features of the disease in the U.S. are unknown. Whereas risk factors for aspergillosis are well described in immunosuppressed populations, they have not been defined for patients with severe influenza.

The objectives of this project are to define the epidemiology and risk factors of IAA by conducting the first prospective multi-center study of the disease in the U.S. employing strict IAA case definitions and systematic serum and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid galactomannan diagnostic testing of ICU patients with severe influenza. This study will also evaluate a novel point-of-care lateral flow assay for Aspergillus, and bank biological and fungal specimens for future studies.

This study addresses fundamental gaps in understanding of the epidemiology and clinical aspects of an under-appreciated form of invasive aspergillosis. This research will lead to clinical trials in which improved understanding of IAA and its diagnosis are used to guide early antifungal treatment strategies, as well as to future laboratory studies of IAA pathogenesis.

Congratulations Hong!