Occult Dirofilariasis (human heartworm) is a long-ignored disease in the US and worldwide. There is currently no viable test for this disease in humans, and the only known “cure”, based on arsenic, is so toxic that it is never prescribed to a human. The second-best drug (diethylcarbamazine) is only 40% effective and has already been removed from the US market by the FDA. Clinical practitioners are simply unable to diagnose this disease, therefore there can be no statistics collected as a result of this most basic fundamental problem. The people who contract this disease are therefore forced to suffer all kinds of immunologically induced morbidities that will never be associated with the underlying disease. Many infected people will never learn that they have this disease and thus their doctors can only treat the very nondescript symptoms. Those people that currently suffer from this disease have only one option, and sadly this is still ‘the final option’.
HDRI was founded in 2020 by a number of independent volunteers from the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory who are dedicated to taking on the daunting task of changing this scientific landscape. We are attempting to build a comprehensive understanding of this disease by connecting the dots between all the disparate sources of published medical research so that extremely busy doctors and scientists can quickly keep up with all the latest information available in an easy-to-digest format.
We plan to reach out to the community of those potentially affected by this disease to help collect their stories, advocate for their cause, and provide feedback to the discussions on the research side. If possible this communications channel might also be utilized to aid researchers find an appropriate cross-section of volunteers thus enabling the proper test development process to move forward.
We are also investigating new potential sensor technology in an attempt to build the tools necessary to study this disease in earnest. We need innovative technologies to enable the necessary level of research to fully understand this disease and find any potential tests and/or cures. Somebody needs to step up and orchestrate and advocate for this effort, and HDRI intends to do as much as possible with what limited resources we are able to put to this problem.