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October 10, 2017updated 19 Oct 2017 10:39am

US’ ASU and Mayo Clinic researchers to develop new test for valley fever

Researchers at Arizona State University (ASU) and Mayo Clinic in the US have collaborated to develop a new tool for quick and efficient diagnosis of valley fever.

By Daniel Garrun

Researchers at Arizona State University (ASU) and Mayo Clinic in the US have collaborated to develop a new tool for quick and efficient diagnosis of valley fever.

The infectious disease researchers intend to design the test for identification of the Coccidioides fungus that causes valley fever.

Mayo Clinic microbiologist Thomas Grys and ASU immunologist Douglas Lake plan to focus on a microscopic spore of the fungus, which is considered hard to diagnose.

Existing diagnostic tests in the US are reported to involve identification of antibodies in a blood sample.

As antibodies for valley fever do not develop until several weeks or months after infection, some patients are given antibiotics as a first line of treatment, while the fever requires an antifungal agent.

“Our hope is that our proposed method will one day help diagnose patients quicker, reduce the use of antibiotics, and cut the number of return visits to the doctor.”

If valley fever is left untreated, it could lead to various respiratory problems such as pneumonia.

The researchers are working towards developing the new test for detecting the presence of bits and pieces of the microscopic fungus instead of antibodies in potentially infected patients.

Grys said: “Our hope is that our proposed method will one day help diagnose patients quicker, reduce the use of antibiotics, and cut the number of return visits to the doctor.”

The Arizona Biomedical Research Commission provided a $750,000 grant to support the research involved in the development of the new diagnostic test.

The research is partially supported by the Mayo Clinic Geraldine Colby Zeiler Professorship of Cytopathology Fund and a grant from Mayo Clinic’s Centre for Individualised Medicine.

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