Sasisekha Bennuru (NIAID)
Lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis; LF) is a neglected tropical disease that affects over 120 million people throughout the tropics and subtropics of Asia, Africa, the Western Pacific, and parts of the Caribbean and South America. LF results from infection with the filarial parasites Wuchereria bancrofti or Brugia malayi. Current methods of confirming active infection by W. bancrofti or B. malayi include microscopy and immunoassays using serum/plasma extracted from the patient. However, the sensitivity of microscopy detection varies among patients, and immunoassays show cross-reactivity with antibodies directed towards other parasites, such as Onchocerca volvulus or Loa loa whose geographic distribution can overlap with the LF-causing filarial parasites.
This new technology addresses the limitations of cross-reactivity through the detection of a single antigen, Wb5B, selected due to a lack of homologs in other filarial parasites that infect humans. Preliminary data indicates that Wb5B is immunogenic, highly specific (>99%), and accurate (>90%) for the detection of W. bancrofti infection in sera from humans and other mammalian sources. The antigen can be isolated in soluble form for integration in a variety of diagnostic assay formats.
- Diagnostics for W. bancrofti infection
- Surveillance for W. bancrofti prevalence
- Increased specificity compared to available diagnostics
- Differentiation from other parasites with similar geographic footprints