The Department’s Diagnostics group in the Centre for Drugs & Diagnostics (CDD), headed by Dr Emily Adams, is a good example of our expansion into new research areas.
Emily's group is recruiting patients to the Breathspec project, which is testing a simple to use diagnostic to distinguish non-bacterial pneumonia and a sore throat from bacterial infections, in order to better triage patients for antibiotic therapy. The group continues to develop diagnostics for the containment level 4 viruses Lassa fever and Crimean Congo Haemorrhagic fever (CCHF) working with BioGene and Genedrive on close to patient testing. Another industrial collaboration with Biofortuna focusses on an anti-microbial resistance (AMR) assay, which can detect 10 markers of AMR in a single, cheap and easy to use test, planned for commercialisation in 2020, and undergoing evaluation in Nepal. Promising results using antibody detection methodologies to differentiate eleven types of flaviviruses are being developed for more specific tests for diagnosis of returning travellers and to understand the epidemiology of these important but difficult to distinguish viruses. Finally, malaria parasites are deleting genes that underpin rapid diagnostic tests for malaria leading to false-negative results. The group has been able to detect HRP2 negative malaria parasites in Indonesia for the first time. This push to ‘diagnostic resistance’ is incredibly important to monitor and the group’s current focus is to develop and evaluate alternative malaria diagnostics that do not rely on detecting HRP2.