Project name: Project category: Kind of research: Country: Principle investigator:

Development of immuno-assays to diagnose infection with atypical mycobacteria in patients with CF and investigation of their potential role for monitoring treatment success

Infection
Immunology-Inflammation
Clinical research Belgium Prof. Dr. Françoise Mascart
Start date: 01/07/2017
End date: 30/06/2020
Status: Ongoing
Abstract:

Thanks to improved treatment and care, Cystic Fibrosis patients can now live longer, healthier lives. Pulmonary
infections that used to be detrimental for the patients’ health can now more easily be controlled, but this change in
disease profile is accompanied by a rise in other types of infections, including atypical mycobacteria. These atypical
mycobacteria are usually relatively harmless environmental organisms but, if they enter the lungs, they can
establish a chronic infection. Treatment is difficult and long, and often cannot be combined with other Cystic
Fibrosis treatments. Moreover, diagnosing atypical mycobacteria in Cystic Fibrosis patients is difficult as the
symptoms are nonspecific. Importantly, it is not easy to obtain the sputum samples needed for microbiological
analysis from children with Cystic Fibrosis. Hence, especially for these children, alternative, simple and reliable
diagnostic tools have to be developed. This project will investigate if a blood test can be used for diagnosing
atypical mycobacterial infections in children and adults with Cystic Fibrosis. The blood test will examine if the
activation of immune cells present in the patient’s blood sample, by antigens derived from different mycobacteria,
is a measure for infection. We have previously found that such a blood test can discriminate persons infected with
another mycobacterium: M.tuberculosis, the causal agent of tuberculosis, from uninfected individuals within
different populations. Based on our experience with M.tuberculosis, we believe that adapting the test to atypical
mycobacteria could result in a simple but reliable diagnostic tool for atypical mycobacterial infection.

Institute: Université Libre de Bruxelles
City: Brussels
Project amount (€): 220.000

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