Medical Research Council
University of Exeter

Our Research


Diagnostics

Prompt and accurate diagnosis of fungal diseases...

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...are critical to patient survival, with prognosis worsening significantly in the absence of early detection and treatment with anti-fungal drugs.

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Fungal biomarkers circulating in the bloodstream...

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...can act as signature molecules of infection, and provide ideal targets for the development of quick, specific and sensitive diagnostic tests.

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Our research into diagnostics is focussed on the generation of fungal pathogen-specific monoclonal antibodies Monoclonal antibodies are man-made proteins that act like human antibodies in the immune system. An antibody is a protein that sticks to a specific protein called an antigen. Antibodies circulate throughout the body until they find and attach to the antigen. Once attached, they can force other parts of the immune system to destroy the cells containing the antigen. Researchers can design antibodies that specifically target a certain antigen. and tests that can be used at the ‘point-of-care’ to enable rapid detection of fungal infections enabling doctors to take swift action in treating patients.

To maximise the impact of this research one of our scientists established a spin-out company called ISCA Diagnostics in 2012 to enable hospitals and clinics to access new diagnostic tests. This has resulted in clinical uptake of the Asp-LFD test, a rapid bedside test for invasive pulmonary aspergillosis, a devastating fungal lung disease of patients with haematological malignancies.

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Credits

Christopher Thornton (text)