Genomics and Clinical Diagnostics
12: Parasite Genomes and Diagnostics
Published:29 Jan 2019
The diagnosis of parasitic infections has, until recently, remained firmly grounded in the traditional methodologies of microscopic analysis of parasites in clinical samples coupled with the detection of anti-parasite antibodies in human serum. Over the last decade a significant shift has taken place in the uptake of diagnostic technologies based around the parasites' genome and even its transcriptome. This time period has also seen the development of these assays from in-house diagnostics to commercially released CE-marked assays. Nucleic-acid-based assays offer a significant improvement in analytical sensitivity in many scenarios compared with traditional techniques. In addition they allow for pathologists to determine the presence of live parasites (especially relevant in reinfections or post-treatment samples), differentiate between morphologically identical parasites and look for drug-resistance loci. The commonality in the technologies used between different disciplines has also allowed for the development of syndromic assays to analyse samples for multiple pathogens simultaneously, whilst reducing the specialist knowledge required to do so.