Research

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Aspergillus species are ubiquitous fungi that typically inhabit the soil to recycle essential nutrientsand propagates via asexual spores called conidia. While aspergillus DNA is commonly found in the lungs of healthy adults, pulmonary aspergillosis can manifest if the individual who inhales the conidia is immunocompromised or has been infected with SARS-CoV2.

Pulmonary aspergillosis is a spectrum of respiratory diseases that can range from mild to fatal depending on the state of an individual’s immune system. Milder manifestations of pulmonary aspergillosis include allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (ABPA), and chronic pulmonary aspergillosis (CPA). These milder forms tend to cause fatigue, difficulty breathing, and hemoptysis. While its most lethal diagnosis, invasive aspergillosis (IA) can cause respiratory failure, neurological conditions, and multiorgan failure, depending on where the infection spreads.

The mortality rate for these individuals ranges from 20-90% and it is postulated that there are roughly 3 million cases of CPA worldwide every year. These numbers will only continue to grow if factors such as limited drug therapies, antifungal resistant strains, and the influx of individuals with compromised immune systems continue. With the COVID-19 global pandemic, finding new treatments for respiratory illness is of paramount importance.

The Ashburn Group seeks to discover new targets of opportunity that may lead to better treatments for pulmonary aspergillosis. Group members are trained in modern synthetic organic chemistry techniques and spectroscopy analysis.

Laboratory

Instrumentation

Thermo Scientific Picospin45 NMR spectrometer.
Perkin Elmer Lambda XLS+ UV/Vis spectrophotometer.
Stuart SMP3 melting point apparatus.
Advion Expression CMS mass spectrometer.
Jasco X-LC HPLC.
Beckman Coulter DTX 880 Multimode Detector.
SCP DigiPREP 200 fast steam distillation system.
Thermo Scientific IR100 Infrared Spectrometer (ATR not shown).
Buchi P6 multivapor with chiller.