Diagnostics Research

Historically Dirofilaria has been difficult to study because it has been impossible to know for sure who has the disease. It is not possible to study any disease where there are no examples to observe, so the first order of business needs to be to find a test through which we can gather a cohort group with which to properly study the pathology in humans.

HDRI has many ideas on how this might be done and is investigating many diagnostic tools that might be of potential use. Below are a few possibilities:

Diagnostic Ultrasound – The common ultrasound device is unable to produce a quality image of the adult filaria due to a multitude of issues. Color Doppler might be capable of capturing some of the filaria movement but a mechanism is needed to induce that movement on demand. It has been observed that a burst of 1Khz ultrasound at 3.4+ watts per cm sq. can cause the filaria to move rather violently under some conditions, and this method needs to be further explored.

Filarial Test Kit Analysis – There are many test kits that are commonly used with animals that need to be explored for use with humans. Felines are often found to have an occult infection similar to humans. The problem is that the “antigen” tests generally fail due to the extreme level of control that the filaria get over the immune response of the host. The Circulating Fliaria Antigens (CFA) as a molecular test is a much better target for diagnostic purposes rather than looking for the immune system to react to any test antigen. If the immune system was capable of reacting it would have done so to try and get rid of the infection already. Testing the immune response is only going to fail, so performing a molecular diagnostic test for the existance of a filarial antigen in the blood is a much better choice.

RT-qPCR/LAMP Diagnostics – The secretomes excreted by the filaria contain micro-RNA encapsulated by emposome like structures which are designed to be pulled into the hosts on cells in order to turn them into factories for the filaria’s own benefit. If one were to perform reverse polymerase to turn the RNA into DNA then that could be copied and tested for specific DNA sequences. If the DNA sequence is matched then that is proof that the filaria exist in that patient. This kind of testing needs specialized equipment and highly controlled sanitary conditions where environmental contamination can not give false positives. HDRI would like to look into this technology and develop a test for this disease.

Infrasonic Stethoscope – Our original testing was simply designed to prove that the signs of the disease that one feels was actually a physical phenomena and not a psychological one. HDRI was successful in recording the movement of a filaria under the skin while simultaneously proving it was not of a motor neurological origin.

Movement of adult filaria recorded with a geophone device.

Near Infrared imaging – It is possible to use the near infrared spectrum to record an image of the vascular system under the skin. If we knew the exact spectroscopic frequencies absorbed or reemitted by the adult Dirofilaria it might be possible to create a camera system that could directly record the location of the adult filaria based on both its displacement of the hemoglobin and the specific reflectance or absorption by the specific carbohydrates that the filaria uses it coat itself in order to evade the immune system. By using an AI differentiating technique between the two frequencies it may be possible to tell if there is a chronic infection present and even use this to study the human pathology progression of the disease. To do this HDRI needs actual samples of these Dirofilaria carbohydrates to be spectroscopically analysed so that we can determine the best possible frequencies to use in order to properly diagnose the disease.