Tinea capitis (scalp ringworm) is a serious fungal infection that affects 3-8% of children in the United States. Children from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds, sub-Saharan African descent, or other groups that have been traditionally disadvantaged within the health care system are most at risk of infection. Onychomycosis (fungal nail infection) is a widespread disease that is particularly common in the elderly and has potential for severe consequences in diabetic patients. In diabetics, onychomycosis can lead to a limb-threatening infection if not managed correctly. Both diseases are caused by the same group of pathogenic fungi: the dermatophytes.
Current diagnostics for tinea capitis and onychomycosis (fungal culture and microscopy) are slow, expensive, and require a high level of user expertise. The goal of this project is to develop a point-of-care immunoassay for tinea capitis and onychomycosis that is rapid (<20 min), accurate, affordable, and deliverable to clinics in resource-limited settings. This project is funded by a Phase II small business innovation research (SBIR) grant from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering. Dr. Amanda Burnham-Marusich and Dr. Thomas Kozel are Co-Principal Investigators on the project, which has a collaborative sub-award component to the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine.