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Lymphatic Filariasis (LF) is caused by microscopic worms transmitted to man by mosquitoes. Although easily curable with modern anti-helminthic drugs, the disease caused by LF (sometime called elephantiasis) is crippling if left untreated. LF affects 120 million people worldwide in 80 countries, mostly poorer countries of Africa, South & South-East Asia and the Pacific region. LF is the 4th leading cause of permanent disability (W.HO. 1998). LF is one of 7 diseases earmarked by W.H.O. for eradication (together with leprosy, Chagas, etc).
The Global Alliance to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis or GAELF was founded in 2000 to facilitate the control and eradication of LF. A programme of mass drug administration (MDA) is used to eliminate the parasite from infected populations and in combination with mosquito vector control has proven highly effective. However, actual disease eradication needs to be verified and measured, and current diagnostic tests such as microfilaremia or parasite antigen detection remain unsatisfactory.
Cellabs and its sister company TropBio have long been associated with the development and manufacture of diagnostic tests for LF. In collaboration with Dr Gary Weil, Washington University, St Louis, MI, USA, Cellabs has been developing a serology test designed to detect antibodies in sentinel children within populations treated by MDA over several years (typically 5 annual cycles of MDA). The absence of sentinel children typically 5-8 years old testing positive for specific antibodies to LF is a clear sign that the disease transmission has been stopped.
Cellabs Bm14 Filariasis IgG CELISA assay is now available commercially.