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July 20, 2011

New point-of-care test for cryptococcal antigen may save thousands of lives.

New point-of-care test for cryptococcal antigen may save thousands of lives.

On the last day of the IAS Conference in Rome, Joseph Jarvis, from London University, presented data on a new point-of-care test for detecting cryptococcal antigen using the Cryptococcal Antigen Lateral Flow Assay (CRAG LFA) in serum, plasma and urine. This new test has the potential to save thousands of lives, especially in developing countries.

Cryptococcal meningitis accounts for up to 63% of adult meningitis in southern Africa. Mortality in some reports is as high as 96%. The diagnosis, usually made by lumbar puncture and india ink microscopy or EIA is hampered by inadequately trained personnel and limited infrastructure. Patients in remote areas may be unable to easily access diagnostic services.

Dr. Jarvis and colleagues from the University of Nevada and South Africa developed a point-of -are test that can be stored at room temperature, does not require special laboratory equipment and was described as easy to use as a home pregnancy test. Dr. Jarvis presented results on the test’s sensitivity when applied to 62 patients. The results showed an extremely high correlation between EIA titres and CRAG LFA in serum, blood and urine.

Although sensitivity appears high, specificity will need to be further evaluated. Nevertheless, this was an exciting development with the potential to allow early and accurate diagnosis of cryptococcal meningitis in resource limited settings and hopefully translate into improve mortality rates.

Reference: Jarvis J. Evaluation of a novel point of care cryptococcal antigen (CRAG) test on serum, plasma and urine from patients with HIV-associated cryptococcal meningitis [Oral Abstract]. Presented July 20, 2011, at the 6th IAS Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention, Rome, Italy, Abstract WELBB04.

Source: Source: Reporting for PRN news from Rome, Italy: Anita Radix, MD