Open AccessEditorial
Special Issue “Aspergillus fumigatus: From Diagnosis to Therapy”
J. Fungi 2016, 2(4), 31; doi:10.3390/jof2040031 (registering DOI) -
Abstract Aspergillus fumigatus is an enigmatic pathogen. Full article
Open AccessReview
Allergic Aspergillus Rhinosinusitis
J. Fungi 2016, 2(4), 32; doi:10.3390/jof2040032 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
Allergic fungal rhinosinusitis (AFRS) is a unique variety of chronic polypoid rhinosinusitis usually in atopic individuals, characterized by presence of eosinophilic mucin and fungal hyphae in paranasal sinuses without invasion into surrounding mucosa. It has emerged as an important disease involving a large
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Allergic fungal rhinosinusitis (AFRS) is a unique variety of chronic polypoid rhinosinusitis usually in atopic individuals, characterized by presence of eosinophilic mucin and fungal hyphae in paranasal sinuses without invasion into surrounding mucosa. It has emerged as an important disease involving a large population across the world with geographic variation in incidence and epidemiology. The disease is surrounded by controversies regarding its definition and etiopathogenesis. A working group on “Fungal Sinusitis” under the International Society for Human and Animal Mycology (ISHAM) addressed some of those issues, but many questions remain unanswered. The descriptions of “eosinophilic fungal rhinosinusitis” (EFRS), “eosinophilic mucin rhinosinusitis” (EMRS) and mucosal invasion by hyphae in few patients have increased the problem to delineate the disease. Various hypotheses exist for etiopathogenesis of AFRS with considerable overlap, though recent extensive studies have made certain in depth understanding. The diagnosis of AFRS is a multi-disciplinary approach including the imaging, histopathology, mycology and immunological investigations. Though there is no uniform management protocol for AFRS, surgical clearing of the sinuses with steroid therapy are commonly practiced. The role of antifungal agents, leukotriene antagonists and immunomodulators is still questionable. The present review covers the controversies, recent advances in pathogenesis, diagnosis, and management of AFRS. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
A Quantitative Model to Estimate Drug Resistance in Pathogens
J. Fungi 2016, 2(4), 30; doi:10.3390/jof2040030 -
Abstract
Pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP) is an opportunistic infection that occurs in humans and other mammals with debilitated immune systems. These infections are caused by fungi in the genus Pneumocystis, which are not susceptible to standard antifungal agents. Despite decades of research and drug development,
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Pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP) is an opportunistic infection that occurs in humans and other mammals with debilitated immune systems. These infections are caused by fungi in the genus Pneumocystis, which are not susceptible to standard antifungal agents. Despite decades of research and drug development, the primary treatment and prophylaxis for PCP remains a combination of trimethoprim (TMP) and sulfamethoxazole (SMX) that targets two enzymes in folic acid biosynthesis, dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR) and dihydropteroate synthase (DHPS), respectively. There is growing evidence of emerging resistance by Pneumocystis jirovecii (the species that infects humans) to TMP-SMX associated with mutations in the targeted enzymes. In the present study, we report the development of an accurate quantitative model to predict changes in the binding affinity of inhibitors (Ki, IC50) to the mutated proteins. The model is based on evolutionary information and amino acid covariance analysis. Predicted changes in binding affinity upon mutations highly correlate with the experimentally measured data. While trained on Pneumocystis jirovecii DHFR/TMP data, the model shows similar or better performance when evaluated on the resistance data for a different inhibitor of PjDFHR, another drug/target pair (PjDHPS/SMX) and another organism (Staphylococcus aureus DHFR/TMP). Therefore, we anticipate that the developed prediction model will be useful in the evaluation of possible resistance of the newly sequenced variants of the pathogen and can be extended to other drug targets and organisms. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Virulence Factors as Targets for Anticryptococcal Therapy
J. Fungi 2016, 2(4), 29; doi:10.3390/jof2040029 -
Abstract
The global mortality due to cryptococcosis caused by Cryptococcus neoformans or C. gattii is unacceptably high. Currently available therapies are decades old and may be impacted by drug resistance. Therefore, the need for more effective antifungal drugs for cryptococcosis is evident. A number
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The global mortality due to cryptococcosis caused by Cryptococcus neoformans or C. gattii is unacceptably high. Currently available therapies are decades old and may be impacted by drug resistance. Therefore, the need for more effective antifungal drugs for cryptococcosis is evident. A number of Cryptococcus virulence factors have been studied in detail, providing crucial information about the fungal biology and putative molecular targets for antifungals. This review focuses on the use of well-described virulence factors of Cryptococcus as potential anticryptococcal agents. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Phylogenetic Analysis of the Synnema-Producing Genus Synnemapestaloides
J. Fungi 2016, 2(4), 28; doi:10.3390/jof2040028 -
Abstract
Synnemapestaloides rhododendri, the type species of the genus Synnemapestaloides, is a pathogen of Rhododendron brachycarpum. This fungus produces six-celled conidia with appendages at both end cells, and are generated by annellidic conidiogenous cells on the synnema. These conidial structures are
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Synnemapestaloides rhododendri, the type species of the genus Synnemapestaloides, is a pathogen of Rhododendron brachycarpum. This fungus produces six-celled conidia with appendages at both end cells, and are generated by annellidic conidiogenous cells on the synnema. These conidial structures are similar to those of the genus Pestalotia. The monotypic genus Synnemapestaloides is currently classified in the family Amphisphaeriaceae solely based on conidial morphology. Here we demonstrate that Synnemapestaloides represents a distinct genus in the family Sporocadaceae (Amphisphaeriales) based on differences in the nucleotide sequences of the partial large subunit rDNA gene, the rDNA internal transcribed spacer, and the partial β-tubulin. The genus most closely related to Synnemapestaloides is Seimatosporium and the species most similar to Synnemapestaloides rhododendri is Seim. foliicola which produces short synnema-like conidiomata (sporodochia). These results demonstrate that Seim. foliicola should be transferred to Synnemapestaloides, and also demonstrate that Sporocadaceae can have synnematal in addition to pycnidial and acervular conidiomata. Full article
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Open AccessCorrection
Correction: Stewart, E.R.; Thompson, G.R. Treatment of Primary Pulmonary Aspergillosis: An Assessment of the Evidence. J. Fungi 2016, 2, 25.
J. Fungi 2016, 2(4), 27; doi:10.3390/jof2040027 -
Abstract The authors of the published paper [1] would like to correct Table 1.[...] Full article
Open AccessReview
New Horizons in Antifungal Therapy
J. Fungi 2016, 2(4), 26; doi:10.3390/jof2040026 -
Abstract
Recent investigations have yielded both profound insights into the mechanisms required by pathogenic fungi for virulence within the human host, as well as novel potential targets for antifungal therapeutics. Some of these studies have resulted in the identification of novel compounds that act
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Recent investigations have yielded both profound insights into the mechanisms required by pathogenic fungi for virulence within the human host, as well as novel potential targets for antifungal therapeutics. Some of these studies have resulted in the identification of novel compounds that act against these pathways and also demonstrate potent antifungal activity. However, considerable effort is required to move from pre-clinical compound testing to true clinical trials, a necessary step toward ultimately bringing new drugs to market. The rising incidence of invasive fungal infections mandates continued efforts to identify new strategies for antifungal therapy. Moreover, these life-threatening infections often occur in our most vulnerable patient populations. In addition to finding completely novel antifungal compounds, there is also a renewed effort to redirect existing drugs for use as antifungal agents. Several recent screens have identified potent antifungal activity in compounds previously indicated for other uses in humans. Together, the combined efforts of academic investigators and the pharmaceutical industry is resulting in exciting new possibilities for the treatment of invasive fungal infections. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Treatment of Primary Pulmonary Aspergillosis: An Assessment of the Evidence
J. Fungi 2016, 2(3), 25; doi:10.3390/jof2030025 -
Abstract
Aspergillus spp. are a group of filamentous molds that were first described due to a perceived similarity to an aspergillum, or liturgical device used to sprinkle holy water, when viewed under a microscope. Although commonly inhaled due to their ubiquitous nature within the
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Aspergillus spp. are a group of filamentous molds that were first described due to a perceived similarity to an aspergillum, or liturgical device used to sprinkle holy water, when viewed under a microscope. Although commonly inhaled due to their ubiquitous nature within the environment, an invasive fungal infection (IFI) is a rare outcome that is often reserved for those patients who are immunocompromised. Given the potential for significant morbidity and mortality within this patient population from IFI due to Aspergillus spp., along with the rise in the use of therapies that confer immunosuppression, there is an increasing need for appropriate initial clinical suspicion leading to accurate diagnosis and effective treatment. Voriconazole remains the first line agent for therapy; however, the use of polyenes, novel triazole agents, or voriconazole in combination with an echinocandin may also be utilized. Consideration as to which particular agent and for what duration should be made in the individual context for each patient based upon underlying immunosuppression, comorbidities, and overall tolerance of therapy. Full article
Open AccessReview
Inositol Polyphosphate Kinases, Fungal Virulence and Drug Discovery
J. Fungi 2016, 2(3), 24; doi:10.3390/jof2030024 -
Abstract
Opportunistic fungi are a major cause of morbidity and mortality world-wide, particularly in immunocompromised individuals. Developing new treatments to combat invasive fungal disease is challenging given that fungal and mammalian host cells are eukaryotic, with similar organization and physiology. Even therapies targeting unique
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Opportunistic fungi are a major cause of morbidity and mortality world-wide, particularly in immunocompromised individuals. Developing new treatments to combat invasive fungal disease is challenging given that fungal and mammalian host cells are eukaryotic, with similar organization and physiology. Even therapies targeting unique fungal cell features have limitations and drug resistance is emerging. New approaches to the development of antifungal drugs are therefore needed urgently. Cryptococcus neoformans, the commonest cause of fungal meningitis worldwide, is an accepted model for studying fungal pathogenicity and driving drug discovery. We recently characterized a phospholipase C (Plc1)-dependent pathway in C. neoformans comprising of sequentially-acting inositol polyphosphate kinases (IPK), which are involved in synthesizing inositol polyphosphates (IP). We also showed that the pathway is essential for fungal cellular function and pathogenicity. The IP products of the pathway are structurally diverse, each consisting of an inositol ring, with phosphate (P) and pyrophosphate (PP) groups covalently attached at different positions. This review focuses on (1) the characterization of the Plc1/IPK pathway in C. neoformans; (2) the identification of PP-IP5 (IP7) as the most crucial IP species for fungal fitness and virulence in a mouse model of fungal infection; and (3) why IPK enzymes represent suitable candidates for drug development. Full article
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Open AccessReview
PCR Technology for Detection of Invasive Aspergillosis
J. Fungi 2016, 2(3), 23; doi:10.3390/jof2030023 -
Abstract
The application of molecular technologies to aid diagnosis and management of infectious diseases has had a major impact and many assays are in routine use. Diagnosis of aspergillosis has lagged behind. Lack of standardization and limited commercial interest have meant that PCR was
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The application of molecular technologies to aid diagnosis and management of infectious diseases has had a major impact and many assays are in routine use. Diagnosis of aspergillosis has lagged behind. Lack of standardization and limited commercial interest have meant that PCR was not included in consensus diagnostic criteria for invasive fungal disease. In the last ten years careful evaluation and validation by the Aspergillus European PCR initiative with the development of standardized extraction, amplification and detection protocols for various specimen types, has provided the opportunity for clinical utility to be investigated. PCR has the potential to not only exclude a diagnosis of invasive aspergillosis but in combination with antigen testing may offer an approach for the early diagnosis and treatment of invasive aspergillosis in high-risk populations, with the added benefit of detection of genetic markers associated with antifungal resistance. Full article
Open AccessCorrection
Correction: Kwon-Chung, K.J. et al. Is Cryptococcus gattii a Primary Pathogen? J. Fungi 2015, 1, 154–167
J. Fungi 2016, 2(3), 20; doi:10.3390/jof2030020 -
Abstract The authors of the published paper [1] would like to correct Table 1.[...] Full article
Open AccessReview
Galactomannan and 1,3-β-d-Glucan Testing for the Diagnosis of Invasive Aspergillosis
J. Fungi 2016, 2(3), 22; doi:10.3390/jof2030022 -
Abstract
Invasive aspergillosis (IA) is a severe complication among hematopoietic stem cell transplant recipients or patients with hematological malignancies and neutropenia following anti-cancer therapy. Moreover, IA is increasingly observed in other populations, such as solid-organ transplant recipients, patients with solid tumors or auto-immune diseases,
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Invasive aspergillosis (IA) is a severe complication among hematopoietic stem cell transplant recipients or patients with hematological malignancies and neutropenia following anti-cancer therapy. Moreover, IA is increasingly observed in other populations, such as solid-organ transplant recipients, patients with solid tumors or auto-immune diseases, and among intensive care unit patients. Frequent delay in diagnosis is associated with high mortality rates. Cultures from clinical specimens remain sterile in many cases and the diagnosis of IA often only relies on non-specific radiological signs in the presence of host risk factors. Tests for detection of galactomannan- (GM) and 1,3-β-d-glucan (BDG) are useful adjunctive tools for the early diagnosis of IA and may have a role in monitoring response to therapy. However, the sensitivity and specificity of these fungal biomarkers are not optimal and variations between patient populations are observed. This review discusses the role and interpretation of GM and BDG testing for the diagnosis of IA in different clinical samples (serum, bronchoalveolar lavage fluid, cerebrospinal fluid) and different groups of patients (onco-hematological patients, solid-organ transplant recipients, other patients at risk of IA). Full article
Open AccessReview
Triazole Resistance in Aspergillus spp.: A Worldwide Problem?
J. Fungi 2016, 2(3), 21; doi:10.3390/jof2030021 -
Abstract
Since the first description of an azole-resistant A. fumigatus strain in 1997, there has been an increasing number of papers describing the emergence of azole resistance. Firstly reported in the USA and soon after in Europe, it has now been described worldwide, challenging
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Since the first description of an azole-resistant A. fumigatus strain in 1997, there has been an increasing number of papers describing the emergence of azole resistance. Firstly reported in the USA and soon after in Europe, it has now been described worldwide, challenging the management of human aspergillosis. The main mechanism of resistance is the modification of the azole target enzyme: 14-α sterol demethylase, encoded by the cyp51A gene; although recently, other resistance mechanisms have also been implicated. In addition, a shift in the epidemiology has been noted with other Aspergillus species (mostly azole resistant) increasingly being reported as causative agents of human disease. This paper reviews the current situation of Aspergillus azole resistance and its implications in the clinical setting. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Pediatric Invasive Aspergillosis
J. Fungi 2016, 2(2), 19; doi:10.3390/jof2020019 -
Abstract
Invasive aspergillosis (IA) is a disease of increasing importance in pediatrics due to growth of the immunocompromised populations at risk and improvements in long-term survival for many of these groups. While general principles of diagnosis and therapy apply similarly across the age spectrum,
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Invasive aspergillosis (IA) is a disease of increasing importance in pediatrics due to growth of the immunocompromised populations at risk and improvements in long-term survival for many of these groups. While general principles of diagnosis and therapy apply similarly across the age spectrum, there are unique considerations for clinicians who care for children and adolescents with IA. This review will highlight important differences in the epidemiology, clinical manifestations, diagnosis, and therapy of pediatric IA. Full article
Open AccessReview
Chronic Pulmonary Aspergillosis—Where Are We? and Where Are We Going?
J. Fungi 2016, 2(2), 18; doi:10.3390/jof2020018 -
Abstract
Chronic pulmonary aspergillosis (CPA) is estimated to affect 3 million people worldwide making it an under recognised, but significant health problem across the globe, conferring significant morbidity and mortality. With variable disease forms, high levels of associated respiratory co-morbidity, limited therapeutic options and
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Chronic pulmonary aspergillosis (CPA) is estimated to affect 3 million people worldwide making it an under recognised, but significant health problem across the globe, conferring significant morbidity and mortality. With variable disease forms, high levels of associated respiratory co-morbidity, limited therapeutic options and prolonged treatment strategies, CPA is a challenging disease for both patients and healthcare professionals. CPA can mimic smear-negative tuberculosis (TB), pulmonary histoplasmosis or coccidioidomycosis. Cultures for Aspergillus are usually negative, however, the detection of Aspergillus IgG is a simple and sensitive test widely used in diagnosis. When a fungal ball/aspergilloma is visible radiologically, the diagnosis has been made late. Sometimes weight loss and fatigue are predominant symptoms; pyrexia is rare. Despite the efforts of the mycology community, and significant strides being taken in optimising the care of these patients, much remains to be learnt about this patient population, the disease itself and the best use of available therapies, with the development of new therapies being a key priority. Here, current knowledge and practices are reviewed, and areas of research priority highlighted. Full article
Open AccessReview
Allergic Bronchopulmonary Aspergillosis
J. Fungi 2016, 2(2), 17; doi:10.3390/jof2020017 -
Abstract
Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (ABPA), a progressive fungal allergic lung disease, is a common complication of asthma or cystic fibrosis. Although ABPA has been recognized since the 1950s, recent research has underscored the importance of Th2 immune deviation and granulocyte activation in its pathogenesis.
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Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (ABPA), a progressive fungal allergic lung disease, is a common complication of asthma or cystic fibrosis. Although ABPA has been recognized since the 1950s, recent research has underscored the importance of Th2 immune deviation and granulocyte activation in its pathogenesis. There is also strong evidence of widespread under-diagnosis due to the complexity and lack of standardization of diagnostic criteria. Treatment has long focused on downregulation of the inflammatory response with prolonged courses of oral glucocorticosteroids, but more recently concerns with steroid toxicity and availability of new treatment modalities has led to trials of oral azoles, inhaled amphotericin, pulse intravenous steroids, and subcutaneously-injected anti-IgE monoclonal antibody omalizumab, all of which show evidence of efficacy and reduced toxicity. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Low Titer Pneumocystis jirovecii Infections: More than Just Colonization?
J. Fungi 2016, 2(2), 16; doi:10.3390/jof2020016 -
Abstract
Non-pneumonia Pneumocystis jirovecii colonization is thought to occur frequently in immunocompetent individuals. The aim was to analyze if P. jirovecii low-titer detections have more impact than just colonization. From our total cohort of patients for which P. jirovecii testing by qPCR was requested,
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Non-pneumonia Pneumocystis jirovecii colonization is thought to occur frequently in immunocompetent individuals. The aim was to analyze if P. jirovecii low-titer detections have more impact than just colonization. From our total cohort of patients for which P. jirovecii testing by qPCR was requested, we selected exclusively those that were fully immunocompetent. Patients were defined as fully immunocompetent if they did not receive immunosuppressive therapy, displayed regular antibody titers, and did not suffer from acquired, inherited or autoimmune diseases. Only those patients with complete medical records available were included. A retrospective analysis identified patients with P. jirovecii colonization and successful antibiotic therapy in response to laboratory pathogen detection. We identified 30 fully immunocompetent patients with P. jirovecii colonization suspected to suffer from infection with the pathogen, but with milder symptoms than pneumonia. All patients were successfully treated with cotrimoxazole against P. jirovecii and resolved from chronic cough and recurrent pulmonary infections. The fact that all patients displayed recovery from their clinical symptoms gives raise to the hypothesis that P. jirovecii infections may also occur in immunocompetent patients but with milder symptoms. Full article
Open AccessReview
Aspergillosis in Chronic Granulomatous Disease
J. Fungi 2016, 2(2), 15; doi:10.3390/jof2020015 -
Abstract
Patients with chronic granulomatous disease (CGD) have the highest life-time incidence of invasive aspergillosis and despite the availability of antifungal prophylaxis, infections by Aspergillus species remain the single most common infectious cause of death in CGD. Recent developments in curative treatment options, such
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Patients with chronic granulomatous disease (CGD) have the highest life-time incidence of invasive aspergillosis and despite the availability of antifungal prophylaxis, infections by Aspergillus species remain the single most common infectious cause of death in CGD. Recent developments in curative treatment options, such as haematopoietic stem cell transplantation, will change the prevalence of infectious complications including invasive aspergillosis in CGD patients. However, invasive aspergillosis in a previously healthy host is often the first presenting feature of this primary immunodeficiency. Recognizing the characteristic clinical presentation and understanding how to diagnose and treat invasive aspergillosis in CGD is of utmost relevance to improve clinical outcomes. Significant differences exist in fungal epidemiology, clinical signs and symptoms, and the usefulness of non-culture based diagnostic tools between the CGD host and neutropenic patients, reflecting underlying differences in the pathogenesis of invasive aspergillosis shaped by the nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH)-oxidase deficiency. Full article
Open AccessCommentary
Preemptive Therapy for Cryptococcal Meningitis: A Valid Strategy for Latin America?
J. Fungi 2016, 2(2), 14; doi:10.3390/jof2020014 -
Abstract
AIDS-related cryptococcal meningitis continues to cause a substantial burden of death in low and middle income countries. Better diagnostics allow detection of cryptococcosis in the asymptomatic phase and using these technologies to screen at-risk persons would likely reduce mortality. The World Health Organization
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AIDS-related cryptococcal meningitis continues to cause a substantial burden of death in low and middle income countries. Better diagnostics allow detection of cryptococcosis in the asymptomatic phase and using these technologies to screen at-risk persons would likely reduce mortality. The World Health Organization recommends cryptococcal antigen screening among populations with a prevalence of cryptococcal antigenaemia (CRAG) > 3%. There is scarce data about CRAG prevalence in Latin America. Four studies (only one published as a full text) showed asymptomatic CRAG prevalence between 2.7% and 6.2% in several sub-sets of HIV-infected patients. The CRAG lateral flow assay (LFA) has several advantages over other techniques for actual implementation of a screening program. Although more studies are necessary to confirm available data, implementation of the CRAG screening strategy seems to be opportune in Latin America. Full article
Open AccessReview
Exploitation of Aspergillus terreus for the Production of Natural Statins
J. Fungi 2016, 2(2), 13; doi:10.3390/jof2020013 -
Abstract
The fungus Aspergillus (A.) terreus has dominated the biological production of the “blockbuster” drugs known as statins. The statins are a class of drugs that inhibit HMG-CoA reductase and lead to lower cholesterol production. The statins were initially discovered in fungi and for
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The fungus Aspergillus (A.) terreus has dominated the biological production of the “blockbuster” drugs known as statins. The statins are a class of drugs that inhibit HMG-CoA reductase and lead to lower cholesterol production. The statins were initially discovered in fungi and for many years fungi were the sole source for the statins. At present, novel chemically synthesised statins are produced as inspired by the naturally occurring statin molecules. The isolation of the natural statins, compactin, mevastatin and lovastatin from A. terreus represents one of the great achievements of industrial microbiology. Here we review the discovery of statins, along with strategies that have been applied to scale up their production by A. terreus strains. The strategies encompass many of the techniques available in industrial microbiology and include the optimization of media and fermentation conditions, the improvement of strains through classical mutagenesis, induced genetic manipulation and the use of statistical design. Full article
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