Conduct Research to Improve Existing Diagnostic and Other Tools Needed to Monitor Programs

Diagnostic tools, such as molecular and serologic tests, are an essential part of a successful control program. CDC laboratory investigators are working to modify existing diagnostic tools to make them effective for use in the field and to develop new research tools.

Examples of CDC in action:

  • CDC is working to convert existing laboratory diagnostics to point-of-care tests, enabling program managers to rapidly detect individuals with disease even in areas with limited laboratory resources.
    • A point-of-care urine test to detect schistosomiasis, the urine CCA test, is currently being evaluated by CDC laboratory staff. The urine CCA test is easier to use and less time consuming than the methods currently used for schistosomiasis screening.
  • From 2003 – 2010, CDC supported a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation-funded pilot project in Peru to demonstrate the feasibility of cysticercosis elimination. The ultimate goal of the project was to develop a model that could be used for disease elimination efforts in other parts of the world. CDC’s role was to develop the laboratory tools used to map (assess the burden of disease in a specific area), diagnose cases for targeted treatment, and monitor the effectiveness of interventions. Results from this study indicated transmission of cysticercosis can be interrupted through intense, large-scale treatment of both humans and pigs, coupled with vaccination of pigs.
  • Diagnosis of onchocerciasis requires looking for parasites in skin snip samples, which can be difficult in field settings. A research test for onchocerciasis that tests blood for evidence of infection has been developed. Further work is needed to validate this test, the Ov 16 test, for use in monitoring success of human onchocerciasis in control programs in Africa where infection with other parasites may lead to false positive results. CDC is working to validate this test by assessing its sensitivity and specificity in addition to its reproducibility and accuracy.