Paula Ribeiro of McGill University in Canada will develop a simple diagnostic test for schistosomiasis, which is caused by parasitic worms, based on microRNAs. Current diagnostics suffer from lack of sensitivity or an inability to distinguish current from past infections. They will evaluate parasite microRNAs contained within small extracellular vesicles (exosomes) as infection biomarkers by first isolating and sequencing them from infected mice. Using this information, they will develop a simple, inexpensive test to amplify the microRNAs from human blood using sera from infected patients in West Africa and Egypt. Their approach could ultimately be used to distinguish between different stages of infection and be broadened to other helminth infections.
More information about New Approaches for Detection, Treatment, and Control of Selected Neglected Tropical Diseases (Round 11)