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Cristina Cunha distinguished in the “CaixaResearch Health Call”

Cristina Cunha
Cristina Cunha
Wednesday, 9/21/2022
Campus de Gualtar, Braga
Cristina Cunha
Cristina Cunha, researcher at Life and Health Sciences Research Institute (ICVS) of the School of Medicine of University of Minho, was awarded a grant of 500 thousand euros in the “CaixaResearch Health Call 2022”, by the ”la Caixa Foundation”. The researcher will spend the next three years understanding how the Aspergillus fungus can attack patients with reduced immunity and cause severe lung disease associated with high mortality rates. The results of the work will help in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of this serious infection and in the prognosis of patients. The CaixaResearch Health Call 2022 has awarded a total of 23,15 million euros to 33 biomedical research projects.

Aspergillus is an airborne fungus present everywhere, both outdoors and indoors, and we breathe in its spores every day. In most healthy individuals, the fungus does not cause infection or health problems of any kind. However, some people – particularly those who are immunosuppressed because, for example, they have received a transplant, have a tumour, are in intensive care or even have COVID-19 – can develop invasive pulmonary aspergillosis, a disease that can be serious and life-threatening.Globally, 30 million people are at risk of infection each year, although only 300,000 new cases of infection are diagnosed annually. But what is it that causes only certain people to become infected? Despite the fact that significant advances in combating this opportunistic infection have been made in recent years, both diagnosis and treatment of aspergillosis continue to be a serious medical challenge.In this project, the researchers will investigate whether specific factors alter the balance between the host and its lung microbiota and predispose certain immunocompromised individuals to develop the disease. The results of the study can be used to improve both prevention, diagnosis and treatment of this serious complication and the prognosis of patients.

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