Researchers at the
University at Buffalo and the Mayo Clinic have shown that chronic
sinusitis is an immune disorder caused by fungus.
Earlier there was a
lack of knowledge about the causes of chronic sinusitis. Without
a specific target for intervention, physicians often simply treated
the secondary bacterial infections.
The report was presented
(March 23, 2004) at the annual meeting of the American Academy of
Allergy, Asthma and Immunology in San Francisco. The research was
conducted while David A. Sherris was at the Mayo Clinic.
on the study, all from the Mayo Clinic, were Jens U. Ponikau, M.D.,
Amy Weaver, Evangelo Frigas, M.D., and Hirohito Kita, M.D.
The research was supported
by grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Mayo Foundation
for Education and Research.
According to the research
finding common airborne fungi lodge in the mucus lining of the sinuses
in most people, but initiate an immune response only in individuals
prone to chronic sinusitis. The immune response causes the fungi
to be attacked, which leads to damage of the sinus membranes, resulting
in full-blown symptoms.
"We hope this
study will lead to the first treatment aimed at the root cause of
chronic sinusitis, rather than a treatment just to mask the symptoms,"
said David A. Sherris, M.D., interim chair of the UB Department
Through a randomized,
placebo-controlled, double-blind pilot trial using the fungicide
Amphotericin-B applied intranasally, the researchers found that
the treatment group showed a significant decrease in the inflammatory
thickening of the sinus membranes compared to the control group.
Inflammation in the
mucus also decreased significantly in those receiving the drug,
compared to placebo, and 70 percent of patients on the medication
had a decrease in the amount of nasal swelling, results showed.
The University at Buffalo
is a premier research-intensive public university, the largest and
most comprehensive campus in the State University of New York.