Peter Melby (PI) | Alejandro Castellanos (PM)
The impact of neglected parasitic diseases on human health is staggering. These chronic infections collectively affect more than a billion of the world’s poorest people (the so-called “bottom billion”), causing chronic disability, impaired development in children and reduced economic capacity in adults. Despite the huge burden of these diseases, research into their diagnosis, treatment, and prevention has been relatively neglected. To reduce the impact of these diseases in endemic resource-limited countries, it is imperative to develop low-cost, field-applicable diagnostic tests, especially tests that can be used at the point-of-care (POC). Our MTT will bring together basic, clinical, and epidemiologic scientists to develop for the first time RPA-based assays coupled with lateral flow detection for point-of-care diagnosis of selected intestinal protozoa, intestinal helminths, Leishmania, and Trypanosoma cruzi.
In Specific Aim 1 we will focus on Fasciola and Strongyloides, two intestinal helminths of global importance. In Specific Aim 2 we will focus on a multiplex diagnostic test for the intestinal protozoa, Cryptosporidium, Giardia, and Entamoeba histolytica. In Specific Aim 3 we will develop diagnostic tests for cutaneous, mucosal and visceral leishmaniasis. In Specific Aim 4 we will focus on Trypanosoma cruzi, the cause of Chagas disease. In parallel with the laboratory based studies, we will work with epidemiologists to design a rigorous prospective field evaluation trial for each of the individual or multiplexed RPA-lateral flow strip diagnostic tests. We expect to provide two major deliverables: 1) a clinically-validated RPA-lateral flow diagnostic test for each proposed parasitic disease, ready for full-scale field evaluation, and 2) a rigorously designed study protocol for field evaluation of each of the RPA-lateral flow diagnostic tests that will form the basis of future proposals for extramural funding.