Histoplasmosis is an infectious disease produced by fungus Histoplasma capsulatum. Pulmonary infection is a mild and self-limited disease in some areas of the United States. However, progressive disseminated histoplasmosis is a common and serious infection among patients with HIV/AIDS in endemic regions in Central and South America. Mortality rates may be as high as 30%. The frequency of progressive disseminated histoplasmosis may exceed that of tuberculosis in some countries.

Diagnosis of histoplasmosis requires culture from a clinical sample or histopathological evaluation of tissue. Unfortunately, culture requires up to 4 weeks for fungal growth. Histopathological testing involves invasive procedures, is insensitive and requires expertise for interpretation. A simple, rapid and inexpensive diagnostic tool would dramatically reduce time to diagnosis and treatment, leading to reduced morbidity and mortality.

In a cooperative effort with IMMY, we are developing monoclonal antibodies that are specific for polysaccharide antigens of H. capsulatum. This is a particularly challenging project because the target polysaccharides are largely uncharacterized and poorly immunogenic. The goal is an assay that can detect antigens in urine or a drop of blood. The assay will be low cost and suitable for use in a point-of-care setting in resource-limited countries.

Project investigators: Sean Bauman (Principal Investigator; CEO of Immuno-Mycologics, Inc.) and Thomas Kozel, Ph.D. (Co-Investigator).

Grant support: This study is supported by Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) NIH grant (R41 AI096945) Immunoassay for diagnosis of histoplasmosis in HIV/AIDS, to Immuno-Mycologics, Inc, 2011-2013. The UNR Diagnostics Discovery Laboratory is a subcontractor for development of monoclonal antibodies.