Side effects were similar in all three treatment regimens. Possible side effects are anemia, low levels of potassium, low white blood cell counts and additional infections, the study authors noted.
"This study is the first ever to demonstrate that a combination of antifungal drugs can significantly reduce the risk of death from this disease," Day pointed out.
The reason for the success of this particular combination is that it quickly kills Cryptococcus, according to the author of an accompanying editorial, Dr. John Perfect, of Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C. "In cryptococcal meningitis, the principle is set: the rapid killing of yeasts at the site of infection translates into a better outcome," he wrote.
"Long-term success in the treatment of cryptococcal meningitis depends on how well we kill yeasts with the initial treatment regimen," Perfect added.
The study, which was funded by the Wellcome Trust and the British Infection Society, is published in the April 4 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
To learn more about Cryptococcus, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
SOURCES: Jeremy Day, M.D., Ph.D., head, CNS-HIV Infections Group, Wellcome Trust Major Overseas Program Vietnam in Ho Chi Minh City, and university research lecturer, University of Oxford, England; Bruce Hirsch, M.D., attending physician, infectious diseases, North Shore University Hospital, Manhasset, N.Y.; April 4, 2013, New England Journal of Medicine
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