The lungs have historically been thought to be sterile, but researchers have found that even healthy lungs have fungi. An interesting new research study finds that some species of fungi are far more common in the lungs of asthma sufferers. Researchers hope that the discovery of fungal particles will help them understand how to treat asthma better.

“Our analysis found that there are large numbers of fungi present in healthy human lungs. The study also demonstrates that asthma patients have a large number of fungi in their lungs and that the species of fungi are quite different to those present in the lungs of healthy individuals,” said Hugo van Woerden of Cardiff University’s Institute of Primary Care and Public Health and the lead researcher on the study.

The team found 136 different fungal species in the mucus or sputum of patients with and without asthma. In those without asthma, there were 46 common fungi found in the lungs. In those with asthma, there were 90 fungal species found in common from patient to patient.

Establishing the presence of fungi in the lungs of patients with asthma could potentially open up a new field of research which brings together molecular techniques for detecting fungi and developing treatments for asthma,” Woerden said.

“In the future it is conceivable that individual patients may have their sputum tested for fungi and their treatment adjusted accordingly,” he adds.

Ramie A. Tritt, MD, President of Atlanta ENT