The rapid test TR Chagas Bio-Manguinhos, developed by the team led by researcher Fred Santos, from Fiocruz Bahia, was used for the first time in the population on Thursday (5/19), for a seroepidemiological survey of Chagas disease. The pilot project was carried out through a partnership with the Municipality of Tremedal, in Bahia, in residents of a rural area in the city, at the Municipal Health Department request.
Triatoma sordida, vector of Chagas disease (Photo: Unesp)
For the project nicknamed Treme Chagas, an analogy to the name of the municipality, four residences were initially selected where Triatoma sordida, the barber that transmits Trypanosoma cruzi, the parasite that causes the disease, was found, both indoors and outside. “The first person to benefit from the project was a lady over 80 years old, Mrs. Amélia. In her residence, more than one hundred barbers were collected. This technology will help to identify and give visibility to these people. So today is the day to celebrate,” said the researcher.
The test was developed over the last ten years and, after several evaluations regarding its accuracy, it was submitted to Anvisa's (the Brazilian regulatory agency) analysis, receiving the production registration in 2020. Currently, the test is part of the portfolio of the Institute of Technology in Immunobiologicals (Bio -Manguinhos/Fiocruz) and is available to the Ministry of Health, and can be used in the screening of Chagas disease in the Unified Health System (SUS, acronym in Portuguese), contributing to epidemiological control and surveillance actions.
“What makes me very happy is that a product, the result of our research, has reached the often-neglected population, which lacks health care. I am happy to have contributed to this victory and to have been the first to use our product in the population. It is fantastic, we take the laboratory to the population, not the population to the laboratory,” Santos commented. All patients benefiting from the testing carried out on the first day of the project tested negative for the disease.
The conventional serological tests (ELISA, acronym in Portuguese) and the molecular biology tests (PCR, acronym in Portuguese) currently used to diagnose Chagas take hours to present results, and demand a laboratory structure, sophisticated equipment, and professionals with specialized training. The kit, developed in partnership with Fiocruz's units in Bahia, Paraná, Pernambuco, the Institute of Molecular Biology of Paraná (IBMP, acronym in Portuguese), and Bio-Manguinhos, gets the result in only 15 minutes. The test is done by collecting a blood or plasma sample by pricking a finger. If the result is positive, a purple or pink line will appear, indicating that the patient has been infected.
Besides dispensing with the use of equipment and highly qualified professionals, the new test expands the diagnostic offer. According to Santos, most individuals living at risk of acquiring the infection reside in remote areas with difficult access. "This is a milestone in the diagnosis of Chagas disease, because the application of the rapid test expands access to the population and provides early treatment, offering a better quality of life to the affected population," said the scientist.