Collaborative Network wins $8 million grant to identify biomarkers for acute rheumatic fever

A collaborative network led by Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center has received an $8 million grant from the Leducq Foundation to fund a project looking to identify and validate biomarkers of acute rheumatic fever. These biomarkers will serve as the basis for the world’s first sensitive and specific diagnostic test for ARF, which initiates a slow but gradual process of heart valve damage termed rheumatic heart disease.

Despite the heavy burden of rheumatic heart disease in most low- and middle-income countries, diagnosing rheumatic fever is a major challenge. Symptoms of ARF overlap with other common childhood illnesses, and the lack of a single, easily deployable diagnostic test hampers diagnosis.”

Andrea Peyton, MD, a pediatric cardiologist at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and principal investigator on the project

Peyton published a paper in August 2021 detailing, for the first time, the occurrence of rheumatic fever in sub-Saharan Africa. Her study used a novel approach to educate the community and health care professionals at large to increase referrals for potential ARF.

The researchers’ collaboration – called the Acute Rheumatic Fever Diagnostics Collaborative Network (ARC) – represents experts from six continents specializing in bacterial pathogenesis, immunology, genetics, system biology, bioinformatics, and epidemiology, as well as clinicians who live and work in low-lying areas. and low. Middle-income countries across four continents where HCV remains endemic. These investigators have a proven track record of successful and fruitful collaborations, with over 150 publications co-authored by ARF and RHD.

“The ARC Network brings together an impressive group of global experts who will use modern scientific methods to define a diagnostic test for rheumatic fever,” Peyton said. “Our work has the potential to change the way we diagnose rheumatic fever globally and help reveal new targets for prevention and treatment.”

ARC anticipates its discoveries over the next five years to update the diagnosis of ARF and create a powerful platform for future research into this disease. These discoveries will ensure high-quality epidemiological surveillance, learn about vaccine safety and trials, and help devise new strategies for preventing and treating ARF.

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