At the end phase of the Global Programme to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis, antibody testing may have a role in decision-making for bancroftian filariasis-endemic areas. This study evaluated the diagnostic performance of BLF Rapid™, a prototype immunochromatographic IgG4-based test using BmSXP recombinant protein, for detection of bancroftian filariasis. The test was evaluated using 258 serum samples, comprising 96 samples tested at Universiti Sains Malaysia (in-house) and 162 samples tested independently at three international laboratories in the USA and India, and two laboratories in Malaysia. The independent testing involved 99 samples from Wuchereria bancrofti microfilaria or antigen positive individuals and 63 samples from people who were healthy or had other infections. The in-house evaluation showed 100% diagnostic sensitivity and specificity. The independent evaluations showed a diagnostic sensitivity of 84-100% and 100% specificity (excluding non-lymphatic filarial infections). BLF Rapid has potential as a surveillance diagnostic tool to make "Transmission Assessment Survey"-stopping decisions and conduct post-elimination surveillance.
As lymphatic filariasis (LF) programs move closer to established targets for validation elimination of LF as a public health problem, diagnostic tools capable of supporting the needs of the programs are critical for success. Known limitations of existing diagnostic tools make it challenging to have confidence that program endpoints have been achieved. In 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) established a Diagnostic Technical Advisory Group (DTAG) for Neglected Tropical Diseases tasked with prioritizing diagnostic needs including defining use-cases and target product profiles (TPPs) for needed tools. Subsequently, disease-specific DTAG subgroups, including one focused on LF, were established to develop TPPs and use-case analyses to be used by product developers. Here, we describe the development of two priority TPPs for LF diagnostics needed for making decisions for stopping mass drug administration (MDA) of a triple drug regimen and surveillance. Utilizing the WHO core TPP development process as the framework, the LF subgroup convened to discuss and determine attributes required for each use case. TPPs considered the following parameters: product use, design, performance, product configuration and cost, and access and equity. Version 1.0 TPPs for two use cases were published by WHO on 12 March 2021 within the WHO Global Observatory on Health Research and Development. A common TPP characteristic that emerged in both use cases was the need to identify new biomarkers that would allow for greater precision in program delivery. As LF diagnostic tests are rarely used for individual clinical diagnosis, it became apparent that reliance on population-based surveys for decision making requires consideration of test performance in the context of such surveys. In low prevalence settings, the number of false positive test results may lead to unnecessary continuation or resumption of MDA, thus wasting valuable resources and time. Therefore, highly specific diagnostic tools are paramount when used to measure low thresholds. The TPP process brought to the forefront the importance of linking use case, program platform and diagnostic performance characteristics when defining required criteria for diagnostic tools.