Experimental UGA vaccine could target life-threatening fungal infections

The University of Georgia is pioneering a new vaccine that could target life-threatening fungal infections.

Fungal infections cause more than 1.5 million deaths worldwide annually. A UGA study found the infections also double the risk of death in hospitalized patients and doubled the length of hospital stays.

But right now, there's no effective vaccines on the market to protect patients from the growing health concern.

"There’s a significant unmet clinical need for this kind of prevention and also treatment, particularly among immunocompromised individuals," Professor Karen Norris, the lead investigator on the new study told UGA. "The patient population at risk for invasive fungal infections has increased significantly over the last several years."

The new vaccine is designed to protect against the three most common fungal pathogens that are responsible for more than 80% of those fatal infections.

In the study, the experimental vaccine was reportedly effective in developing protective antibodies for transplant recipients, people with HIV, and cancer patients.

"Because it targets three different pathogens, the vaccine has the potential to be groundbreaking regarding invasive fungal infections," Norris said.

It could be the first clinically-approved immunization to combat the invasive illness.