WP2: From biomarkers to diagnostics.
This task aims to establish biomarker core facilities at each African partner site in order to build the necessary capacity to adapt national elimination programme strategies to the country-specific needs of partner sites in terms of equipment, biobanked samples for validation and expertise to measure biomarkers in the field. The diagnostic precision of current methods in both onchocerciasis and lymphatic filariasis are fraught with many obstacles. As such, stakeholders have recognized the need for non-invasive, (filarial) species-specific and sensitive markers. New diagnostic tools that are ideally non-invasive (using for example urine and saliva) are necessary to assist filariasis elimination efforts. These tools are needed in order to monitor infections in children as indicators of new local transmission for programmatic decision-making, implement test and treat strategies, assess the efficacy of new anti-helminthic drugs and detect heritable changes in drug efficacy. It is envisaged that once the equipment and technology know-how is established, this expertise can easily be transferred to the diagnosis of other diseases as well. The task will be led by Prof. Achim Hoerauf and Dr. Kenneth Pfarr.