A "global collapse" of the power of antifungal drugs could spread the disease and threaten food crops around the world, warned a team of international scientists.
The impending crisis is comparable to the so-called apocalypse of antibiotics, but is "little recognized and little appreciated," according to the authors of a review article published in the journal Science, led by researchers from the Imperial College of London and the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom.
The world is in the midst of an "unprecedented" increase in strains of fungi that can not be attacked with common drugs, they said. People with compromised immune systems, particularly cancer patients and organ recipients, are the most vulnerable, as the arsenal of drugs used to treat fungal and yeast-related infections in humans and livestock has been depleted.
Experts are particularly concerned about the weakening power of azoles. Identified in the 1950s to treat fungal infections, they are the main treatment used by doctors. They also constitute a quarter of the total of fungicides used to combat diseases in crops.
Scientists estimated that more deaths are caused by fungi worldwide than breast cancer or malaria. It is believed that the resulting deaths reached the same numbers as tuberculosis. As for food, mushrooms are already responsible for 20% of annual crop losses worldwide. The industrialized agricultural practices used to grow relatively small varieties of crops play a key role in resistance to antifungal drugs.
A combination of more people, animals and crops moving around the world than ever before, and the excessive use of existing treatments has fueled the increase in resistance, the team said. Such processes allow fungi to mutate and reproduce rapidly.
Professor Matthew Fisher of the School of Public Health at Imperial College London and the lead author of the study said in a statement: "Up Now, the magnitude of the problem has been underestimated and underestimated, but the threat to human health and the food chain is serious and immediate.With the discovery of drugs and the new technology to combat fungal pathogens, we urgently need better administration of the drugs. existing antifungals to ensure that they are used correctly and that they remain effective. "
As new and varied species of fungi spread throughout the world, they are an "It is essential that we have means to combat them," he added. However, the very limited number of antifungal medications means that the onset of resistance is causing many common fungal infections to become incurable. "
Professor Fisher continued:" The emergence of resistance is leading to a deterioration in our ability to To defend our crops against fungal pathogens, the annual losses for food production have serious implications for food security on a global scale. "
Professor Sarah Gurr, of the University of Exeter, added:" Emerging resistance to antifungal drugs has gone unnoticed. but without intervention, the fungal conditions affecting humans, animals and plants will be increasingly difficult to counter. "
Noting the fact that some fungal infections had mortality rates of more than 50%, Professor Gordon Brown, director from the Medical Research Council Center for Medical Mycology, told BBC News: "These disturbing trends suggest that even our limited capacity to treat these diseases is being severely compromised. "