It is highly important that we are able to diagnose someone with aspergillosis as quickly as possible as the outcome of treatment is improved if we can begin earlier. Currently diagnosis is a complicated process that takes up a lot of time and that has a particular impact on people who have an acute invasive aspergillosis as that infection can progress rapidly, however there is also a large population of people who have chronic forms of aspergillosis such as Chronic Pulmonary Aspergillosis (CPA) and Allergic Pulmonary Aspergillosis (ABPA) and it is likely that many cases of severe asthma (SAFS) are also caused by Aspergillus sensitisation.
People who have chronic forms of aspergillosis are typically very difficult to diagnose. Centres such as the National Aspergillosis Centre (NAC) in Manchester are dedicated to detecting aspergillosis in patients who are struggling to manage severe asthma for example. Doctors throughout the UK send their patients to NAC as there is no local expertise, a situation that is repeated in many countries throughout the world. Only the worst patients tend to be referred, many fewer than predicted numbers of how many people there should be with ABPA/SAFS and other chronic aspergillosis in the UK. A simple test is badly needed to identify the ‘missing patients’, a test that must be sensitive and simple to use.
LD Bio, a company based in Lyon, France have developed a solution that may have far reaching consequences. Using this device doctors at the bedside of a patient who they suspect may have chronic aspergillosis can now simply put a drop of blood into the sample well at the top of the device and wait for a few minutes for the result to develop. If the patient has aspergillosis two bands will appear, if not one band will appear.
The National Aspergillosis Centre in Manchester, UK has tested the device (results to be presented at ECCMID 2019 in April 2019) and found it to be accurate, identifying 91% of cases of Chronic Pulmonary Aspergillosis in 30min. The manufacturers claim that this test is equally as useful to detect cases of Allergic Bronchopulmonary Aspergillosis (ABPA) and Aspergillus colonisation, suggesting that many more ‘missing’ patients could now be identified quickly and cheaply. If the same technology could be used to detect cases of SAFS then even more patients could receive the correct treatment more quickly.
The test is cheap and accurate enough to use when resources are low (potentially even in developing countries) and a rapid result is desired.
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