Balamuthia mandrillaris is a protist pathogen that can cause encephalitis with a mortality rate of more than 95%. Early diagnosis followed by aggressive treatment is a pre-requisite for successful prognosis. Current methods for identifying this organism rely on culture and microscopy, antibody-based methods using animals, or involve the use of molecular tools that are expensive. Here, we describe the isolation of antibody fragments that can be used for the unequivocal identification of B. mandrillaris. B. mandrillaris-specific antibody fragments were isolated from a bacteriophage antibody display library. Individual clones were studied by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, and immunofluorescence. Four antibody clones showed specific binding to B. mandrillaris. The usefulness of phage antibody display technology as a diagnostic tool for isolating antibody fragments against B. mandrillaris antigens and studying their biological role(s) is discussed further.
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