A Spanish research group specializing in sensors for pharmaceutical applications has developed an organic-inorganic hybrid sensor functionalized with DNA-based "molecular gates" to diagnose the infection produced by Candida albicans.
In recent decades, cases of nosocomial infections produced by yeast, such as candidiasis, have increased in hospitalized patients. There are several potentially dangerous strains of Candida, although the most invasive infections are Candida albicans. It is therefore very important and it's interesting to diagnose, quickly and unequivocally, the cases of infection produced by this species. In addition, it's also important to be able to differentiate between Candida albicans and other strains due to the different treatments that should be followed for each case. In fact, Candida albicans presents an intrinsic resistance to the most commonly used antimicrobial, fluconazole.
There is a great difficulty in correctly diagnosing these infections, as the symptoms are so varied and can be confused with those of borreliosis (Lyme disease, caused by tick bites or fleas infected by a bacterium called Borrelia). The result is that millions of people are undiagnosed or incorrectly diagnosed. Currently, there are reliable methods that allow the detection of Candida albicans however, they are slow, expensive and depend on specialized laboratories having staff with specific training.
The research group has developed a new method for rapid diagnosis and high sensitivity of the infection produced by Candida albicans through the use of mesoporous materials. The invention is framed within the field of new materials with applications in the detection of species of biological, pharmacological and medical interest and that can be applied in protocols of rapid diagnosis in situ. To this end, organic-inorganic hybrid materials have been prepared and successfully used in the detection of infectious pathogens such as Candida albicans with samples of various liquids, such as blood, peritoneal fluid, and encephalorax fluid, with detection limits below 20 units. Thanks to the use of this new detection tool will be able to reduce considerably the costs and resources that today dedicated to the detection of this infection.
The commercialization potential of the developed sensor is very high. For example, in Spain, Candida albicans is the eighth factor of nosocomial infection (that is acquired when being admitted to health centers) and the trend shows an increase: from 2.4% in 1990 to 4.08% in 2016. Throughout their lives, 75% of women are affected at least once and almost 45% will have two or more crises per year, according to the Spanish Association of Gynecology and Obstetrics (AEGO). 8 out of 100,000 cases does Candida penetrate the blood and cause candidemia that ends up causing the patient's death.
The research group is interested in collaborating with an industrial partner who would be interested in licensing this technology and scale up to industrial level to obtain the commercial product. License agreement and/or technical cooperation agreement are sought.