DOST funds leptospirosis early detection kit development

DOST funds leptospirosis early detection kit development

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has funded the development of a medical kit designed to help the early detection of  leptospirosis.

The project development has an outlay of P25,3 million and is being undertaken by the University of the Philippines (UP) Institute of Biology. The kit will be used to test human samples such as whole blood, serum, urine and cerebrospinal fluid.

Project manager Nica Lo said the undertaking is currently in its phase I which involves the development of “aptamers” against Leptospira antigens, and of a “paper-based lateral flow aptamer assay (LFAA).” Phase II or the clinical trial phase is estimated  to begin nest year.

Aptamers are short, single-stranded DNA or RNA which will be selected as bio-recognition molecules in a paper-based LFAA, she explained, adding that the current tests for leptospirosis may sometimes take a few months before getting the result.

Lo said the “gold standard method for the diagnosis of leptospirosis is lab culture and microscopic agglutination test, which both rely heavily on the stage of the disease for diagnostic sensitivity which may take several days or even months to yield results.”

Other currently available laboratory methods for detecting leptospirosis include culture, microscopy, nucleic acid amplification and indirect serological assay.

She said the DOST-supported project, on the other hand, is being designed to produce the result “in several minutes.”

With the kit that is being developed, Lo said effective patient management, reduced hospital costs, and early detection of potential outbreaks are expected on accounts of its faster yield of results.

The proponents o the project are Drs. Windell Rivera, Marjo Mendoza, Chembie Almazar, Yvette Montala, Samboy Gilo, Altair Agmata and Mr. Jeremy Marquez from the UP Institute of Biology.

They are now currently polishing their Phase II proposal and commercialization plans.