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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    UA gets $1M for valley fever research

    The UA’s Valley Fever Center for Excellence recently received $1,049,978 in funding to test a possible treatment for valley fever, said Deborah Daun, marketing and communications coordinator for the BIO5 Institute.

    The funding came from the Office of Orphan Product Development, a department of the Food and Drug Administration. The money will be used to hold clinical trials that test the drug nikkomycin Z.

    Valley fever is an infection caused by inhaling fungal spores found in desert soil, Daun said, adding that it is common in the Southwest and in northwestern Mexico.

    The trials will last three years and involve 60 patients, said David Nix, associate professor in the College of Pharmacy and a BIO5 member. The patients must have primary valley fever pneumonia, Nix said, and they cannot have been sick for more than 30 days prior to participating in the trial.

    “”The patients will be actively participating for about one month, and they will have to be referred by their physicians,”” said Susan Hoover, assistant professor in the College of Medicine.

    “”This is a great opportunity to participate in trials of a new drug that might actually cure an infectious disease,”” she said.

    The UA acquired nikkomycin Z in 2005 and has since been working to find appropriate mechanisms to get the drug into clinical trials, Daun said. In 2006, the FDA declared it an “”orphan”” drug, meaning it affects fewer than 200,000 people each year, she added.

    The orphan status allowed the UA to apply for grants for clinical trials, as there are certain federal grants devoted specifically to curing orphan diseases, Daun said.

    “”Even though it’s considered an orphan drug, it is really important in Arizona,”” Daun said. “”The UA is a land-grant university, so part of our mission is to take innovation from the UA and use it to serve the people of Arizona. This trial could be particularly useful for people living in the state.””

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