Rapid tests for Buruli ulcer control

What is this project?

This project focuses on development of a rapid diagnostic test (RDT) for Buruli ulcer to accelerate access to treatment through early detection and support disease control strategies.


Why are we working on it?

Early diagnosis of Buruli ulcer is key to reducing morbidity and preventing long-term disability. However, the current diagnostic standard – polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing – is complex and only available in reference laboratories, far from the point of care, which implies that the results are not obtained as soon as is desirable and many patients are put on treatment without a confirmatory diagnosis. When testing takes place as part of active case finding and screening initiatives, test results can take up to a week. When testing follows a patient referral from a health facility, it can take a month or more.

With a new oral treatment available for Buruli ulcer, a point-of-care test that can confirm diagnosis at the community level, or where patients first present, would enable immediate treatment.


What does it involve?

The RDT in development will work by detecting mycolactone, the toxin produced by the causative organism, Mycobacterium ulcerans, using swabs or fine needle aspirates collected from suspected Buruli ulcer lesions.


What do we expect to achieve?

The objective is to develop an RDT that can accurately identify Buruli ulcer at the point of care, enabling linkage to treatment much sooner than it is possible with current tools.


Partners and funding

This project is a collaboration between FIND and the Swiss Tropical & Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH). Development work on the Buruli ulcer RDT is being performed by Drugs & Diagnostics for Tropical Diseases (DDTD) and utilizes technology from nanoComposix.

Current project activities are funded by KfW and Medicor Foundation.