Patients with Central Sensitivity Syndrome (CSS) often suffer repeat infections from viruses, bacteria or fungi (herpes, rhinitis, sinusitis, pharyngitis, bronchitis, urinary tract infections, fungal infections…). This occurs because they have a hyper-reactive immune system, i.e. a tendency to develop sensitivities and to “fight” various stimuli to which these patients are sensitised, such as food, respiratory substances (mites, pollens …), physical stimuli (cold or heat, light, noise …) or chemical stimuli (drugs, odors …) among others. As a result, their immune system is “trained” to fight and neglects its key role of defending the body against viruses, bacteria and fungi. These patients are prone to repeat infections as a consequence.
In this regard, the SHC Medical Unit at Viamed Santa Santa Ángela Hospital in Seville is conducting a pioneering study with an experimental treatment for recurrent vaginal candidiasis suffered by many women and digestive candidiasis. Since many patients with CSS suffer from recurrent candidiasis, a prestigious immunotherapy laboratory has recently contacted the head of Immunology at the SHC Medical Unit, Dr. Cáceres, to test a new treatment that could solve this problem that is so irritating to women.
“Many of our patients suffer recurrent vaginal candidiasis and are being treated by their gynaecologists with drug treatments for fungi such as fluconazole,” explains Dr. Cáceres. Despite months of topical or oral medication, these drugs are unable to overcome recurring fungal infections.
The novelty of this treatment is that it is not pharmacological but immunotherapy: a vaccine in the form of sublingual drops that the patient takes every day. The goal is to make the patient’s immune system strong and develop defences against candida so the patient’s own immune system is able to expel the candida that normally lives in the genital and digestive mucous membranes.
In the words of Dr. Cáceres, “We have now recruited 25 patients who are already undergoing treatment with this new vaccine. Some are from the Unit and others were referred by fellow gynaecologists”. The patients selected for the study had to meet a number of criteria: a diagnosis with repeated vaginal candidiasis and that medical treatment had failed on several occasions, i.e. that the infection recurred and is therefore considered to be chronic.
SHC Medical is researching whether patients referred by gynaecologists have associated Central Sensitivity Syndrome, in which case they would start a specific food immunology diet. In any event, whether the patients have CSS or not, they are put on treatment with the new vaccine which contains a specific extract of candida, among other things.
“It is still too early to draw any definitive conclusions but we are quite happy with the preliminary results, as more than 85% of the patients cleared the infection shortly after starting treatment with the vaccine.” In his opinion, “we do not know what will happen to these patients when the vaccine is withdrawn, but as with other immunological diseases and with allergies, if the correct immunotherapy treatment is done for long enough, we can overcome the fungal infection, just as other infections or allergies can be overcome.”
If these results are confirmed, we would be looking at a truly effective treatment for candida fungal infections, which would solve a fairly common problem that significantly restricts the quality of life of many affected women.