Does someone you know take a statin drug to lower their cholesterol? If so, they have a fungus to thank.The first statin drug was isolated from the filamentous fungus Aspergillus by Japanese biochemist Akira Endo in 1976. Statins interfere with sterol biosynthesis by inhibiting HMG-CoA reductase, the first enzyme in the mevalonate pathway that synthesizes cholesterol. It is thought that Aspergillus itself produces statins as a defense against other fungi and bacteria. Today, statins are among the most commonly prescribed pharmaceuticals and have extended the lives of many grateful patients.
Aspergillus isn't all sweetness and light, though. Some species of this fungus cause Aspergillosis, a dangerous respiratory infection that can affect humans, birds and even insects.
What is lovely about Aspergillus, though, is the intricate structure of its conidiophore and conidia. You can see my pendant design inspired by this remarkable fungus at the link: Aspergillus Fungus Pendant