Review on current and future molecular diagnostic tests for bancroftian filariasis

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Abstract

In a public health perspective, filariasis is still a problem in tropical countries, which warrants an appropriate diagnosis and drug-based prophylaxis in the endemic areas to reduce the number of diseased individuals. Among the four species causing filariasis, Wuchereria bancrofti is reported to cause 90% of infections globally. Difficulty in accurate diagnosis of filarial infections remains a problem in filariasis control programs. Improved simple methods are needed for monitoring W. bancrofti infection and thereby to accomplish success in elimination programs. Conventional methods available are tedious and time consuming with low sensitivity and specificity. Recently designed filarial molecular diagnostic assays are highly sensitive and specific for clinical use. These molecular assays have vast advantage over the conventional techniques wherein only a small quantity of samples is required for diagnosis without expert training in parasitological techniques. Molecular diagnostic methods alleviate surveillance activities, help in monitoring and evaluating newer drugs and vaccines. With the anticipated success in filariasis elimination, DNA-based methods gain more importance in the population diagnostic surveillance. Furthermore, molecular techniques are more sensitive enabling species identification and greatly facilitate the collection of epidemiological data. Proper research on filariasis may help to bridge the host–parasite interface by coordinating research and social outcomes that is vitally important for human public health.

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