Leishmaniasis is one of the neglected tropical diseases.It is based on an infection with protozoa of the species Leishmania and can lead to mucosal damage and skin ulcers and even attack the internal organs. The latter is referred to as visceral leishmaniasis. If the disease is not treated to this extent, it is usually fatal. Since leishmania not only affects humans but also dogs and these are increasingly imported from Mediterranean countries to Germany, leishmaniasis in animals is also increasing in Germany. To break the chain of infection, scientists led by Professor Ulrich Steinhoff of the LOEWE Center DRUID have developed a rapid test for use in dogs, which is now to go into production.
Until now, a tissue sample was necessary for reliable detection of an infection with Leishmania. This method is time-consuming and hardly feasible, especially in countries with poor medical care.The rapid test developed in cooperation with Gold Standard Diagnostics, on the other hand, requires only a drop of blood. This allows the antibodies to be detected by presenting them with artificial kinesin molecules as antigens. The team successfully verified the effectiveness of the new test in humans and dogs in Brazil, India, Africa and the Mediterranean region. "In contrast to previously available serodiagnostic tests, our kinesin test antigen shows improved sensitivity and no cross-reactivity with other parasitic diseases," Steinhoff summarizes.
The university commissioned TransMIT Gesellschaft für Technologietransfer mbH, which together with the university's transfer department is overseeing the further development of the novel rapid test, in particular the market launch of the product; the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research is providing initial financial support for this through its GO-Bio program. In order to promote the use of the new rapid test on an industrial scale, Philipps-Universität Marburg has concluded an exclusive worldwide licensing agreement with the Madrid-based company Gold Standard Diagnostics.