Urinary antigen ELISA development for Legionella longbeachae detection

Status: In-progress
Year: 2020
Funded: $110,000
Grant Type: Major Project Grant

Legionnaires’ disease (LD) is a severe type of pneumonia that is common in Canterbury. In Christchurch, one third of hospitalised patients with LD are admitted to the intensive care unit and over 11% die. The early detection of LD is important so that specific antibiotic treatment can be started as soon as possible. Unfortunately, less than half of patients can provide a sputum sample and, as a result, many cases remain undetected.  

This study looks at developing a urine antigen test for the detection of L. longbeachae, the main cause of LD in New Zealand. An ELISA that is highly specific and sensitive for L. longbeachae will help reveal the true number of infections, not only in Canterbury and New Zealand, but also worldwide as a commercially available test. While, globally, most notified cases of LD are caused by Legionella pneumophila, diagnostic laboratories don’t routinely test for other Legionella species. L. longbeachae is therefore under diagnosed as a cause of LD in other countries, despite several outbreaks being reported in the UK and Europe in recent years. A rapid and accurate urine antigen test for L. longbeachae will be an important step in improving diagnosis and patient outcomes, here and world-wide.

Researcher // Dr Amy Scott-Thomas – University of Otago

Dr Amy Scott-Thomas is a Research Fellow in the Breath Research Laboratory and leads the team in the development of non-invasive breath tests. Although the group researches multiple lung pathogens, Dr Scott-Thomas have a special interest in Pseudomonas aeruginosa and its growth in the Cystic Fibrosis (CF) lung. The focus of her research is to improve the current breath test for Ps. aeruginosa identification in the lungs of CF patients.

More About Dr Amy Scott-Thomas

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