Invasive candidiasis

Invasive candidiasis is a life-threatening infection caused by the fungus Candida albicans. Invasive candidiasis is a serious problem in the hospital setting and is the most common invasive fungal infection in countries with advanced medical care. Patients with the highest risk of developing invasive candidiasis are those who have extended stays at intensive care units, long-term catheterization, solid organ transplantation, and immunodeficiency.

Early initiation of treatment critically affects the clinical outcome. Despite the importance of early treatment, no clear methods have been developed for the early diagnosis of infection. Identification of C. albicans by blood culture is still the gold standard, however, blood cultures are only positive in 50% of cases and may take 24-72 hours before results become available. As a consequence, a positive diagnosis may occur, but the window of opportunity to use the information in a meaningful way may have closed.

The goal of this study is to reduce the amount of time-to-diagnosis by shifting to a diagnostic assay that can be used at the patient point-of-care. Lateral flow immunoassays (LFI) are fast (≤15 min), accurate, and cost-effective. The LFI relies on the detection of pathogen-specific biomarkers in patient blood; much the same as a home pregnancy test detects hCG in urine. These studies will use a novel biomarker discovery platform In vivo Microbial Antigen Discovery (InMAD) to identify multiple biomarkers for diagnosis of C. albicans.

Project investigators: Thomas Kozel, Ph.D. Principal Investigator) and Mark Hubbard, Ph.D. (Principal Scientist, DxDiscovery, Inc.).

Grant support: This study is supported by a Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) NIH grant (R41AI108114), Biomarker discovery for immunodiagnosis of invasive candidiasis, 2013–2015.