Making the Rounds- Summer 2020


Pictured: Dr. Kuran (left) , Dr. Butte (center) , Dr. Johnson (right)

T here are many questions that our team at the Valley Fever Institute seeks to answer in the quest for a better understanding of the fungal infection, Coccidioidomycosis (Valley Fever.) We believe that one of the keys to paving the way for more effective therapies lies in the understanding of Valley Fever’s wide range of symptoms and severity. Most cases are benign and resolve on their own within a few weeks, but in rare cases, the infection can linger or spread to other parts of the body, resulting in disseminated disease. Why do some individuals’ bodies possess the ability to recognize and fight off a Valley Fever infection with no symptoms (approximately 60%) or mild symptoms (approximately 39%,) while one percent of infected individuals go on to develop severe or life-threatening disease? In 2018, a four-year-old boy from Santa Maria, California was diagnosed with Disseminated Valley Fever that had spread and infected his soft tissue, skull, bones, arms, legs, and spine. He failed all available antifungal therapies and was referred to Dr. Manish Butte at UCLA for specialized pediatric care. There, Dr. Butte and Dr. Maria Garcia-Lloret analyzed the boy’s T-Cells to seek the cause of his body’s inability to recognize and fight off the infection. Through this analysis, it was determined that the patient’s body recognized the infection and geared up for battle, but against the wrong enemy; his body differentiated its T-cells to fight a parasitic infection that didn’t exist, meanwhile ignoring the

Dr. Manish Butte and the UCLA team visit with the Kern Medical Valley Fever Institute team to discuss research collaboration with .

fungal infection that continued to rage. Dr. Butte and Dr. Garcia-Lloret looked further into the boy’s inflammatory pathway and through the administration of the drugs, interferon gamma and dupilumab, were able to reprogram his immune response to target the Valley Fever Infection. This case has inspired UCLA to team up with The Valley Fever Institute at Kern Medical on a state-funded grant awarded by the University of California Office of the President (UCOP.) This grant, titled “The Immune Dysregulation of Disseminated Coccidioidomycosis,” involves the analysis and comparison of the genetics and immune response of patients with disseminated disease to those who have uncomplicated Valley Fever. In this study, our goal is to identify the genetic or immunological errors at play in disseminated disease, which may lead to the ability to predict which individuals are at risk of severe disease and aid in the identification of targeted therapies that can correct immunological errors to prevent or reverse disease.

Please contact Evan Lanuza at (661) 489-5231 or to see how you can support the Valley Fever Institute at Kern Medical. Recognition opportunities are available.


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