A study authored by IHMT’s researchers Olga Matos, Ana Luísa Tomás e Fernando Cardoso, and Francisco Esteves, from NOVA Medical School, presents an innovative approach for the diagnosis of Pneumocystis pneumonia (PcP) that consists on a serological test, allowing the diagnosis of PcP using blood, an inexpensive and non-invasive specimen. Until now, diagnosis has relied on the detection of P. jirovecii in respiratory specimens obtained by invasive techniques.
Pneumocystis jirovecii is an atypical opportunistic fungus capable of causing severe interstitial pneumonia that remains the leading AIDS-defining illness in European countries and the USA. Furthermore, PcP is an emerging concern in immunosuppressed non-HIV-infected patients subjected to immunosuppressive therapies due to cancer, organ transplant or autoimmune diseases.
The research team combined the production of a multi-epitope synthetic recombinant antigen (RSA) and an ELISA test for detection of anti-P. jirovecii antibodies. The RSA was selected and designed based on the study of the immunogenicity of the carboxyl-terminal domain of the major surface glycoprotein. This antigen was purified and used as an antigenic tool in an ELISA technique, which has presented a sensitivity of 100% and a specificity of 80.8%, when associated with the clinical diagnosis criteria. This approach provides good insights about what can be done in the future serum testing for PcP diagnosis.
The research work has already given rise to a provisional patent application.
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- Read here the complete scientific article