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  1. Foo PC, Chan YY, See Too WC, Tan ZN, Wong WK, Lalitha P, et al.
    J. Med. Microbiol., 2012 Sep;61(Pt 9):1219-25.
    PMID: 22556327 DOI: 10.1099/jmm.0.044552-0
    Entamoeba histolytica is the only Entamoeba species that causes amoebiasis in humans. Approximately 50 million people are infected, with 100, 000 deaths annually in endemic countries. Molecular diagnosis of Entamoeba histolytica is important to differentiate it from the morphologically identical Entamoeba dispar to avoid unnecessary medication. Conventional molecular diagnostic tests require trained personnel, cold-chain transportation and/or are storage-dependent, which make them user-unfriendly. The aim of this study was to develop a thermostabilized, one-step, nested, tetraplex PCR assay for the detection of Entamoeba histolytica, Entamoeba dispar and Entamoeba species in cold-chain-free and ready-to-use form. The PCR test was designed based on the Entamoeba small subunit rRNA (SSU-rRNA) gene, which detects the presence of any Entamoeba species, and simultaneously can be used to differentiate Entamoeba histolytica from Entamoeba dispar. In addition, a pair of primers was designed to serve as an internal amplification control to help identify inhibitors in the samples. All PCR reagents together with the designed primers were thermostabilized by lyophilization and were stable at 24 °C for at least 6 months. The limit of detection of the tetraplex PCR was found to be 39 pg DNA or 1000 cells for Entamoeba histolytica and 78 pg DNA or 1000 cells for Entamoeba dispar, and the specificity was 100 %. In conclusion, this cold-chain-free, thermostabilized, one-step, nested, multiplex PCR assay was found to be efficacious in differentiating Entamoeba histolytica from other non-pathogenic Entamoeba species.
  2. Wong WK, Foo PC, Roze MN, Pim CD, Subramaniam P, Lim BH
    Can J Infect Dis Med Microbiol, 2016;2016:1326085.
    PMID: 27366156 DOI: 10.1155/2016/1326085
    Background. Orang Asli (aborigine) children are susceptible to soil-transmitted helminth (STH) infections due to their lifestyle and substandard sanitation system. Objectives. This study aimed to examine the helminthic and nutritional status of Orang Asli school children in Sekolah Kebangsaan Pos Legap, a remote primary school at Kuala Kangsar District in the state of Perak, Malaysia. In addition, the sensitivities of four STH stool examination techniques were also compared. Methods. Demography and anthropometry data were collected by one-to-one interview session. Collected stools were examined with four microscopy techniques, namely, direct wet mount, formalin ether concentration (FEC), Kato-Katz (KK), and Parasep™. Results. Anthropometry analysis showed that 78% (26/33) of children in SK Pos Legap were malnourished and 33% (11/33) of them were stunted. Stool examinations revealed almost all children (97%) were infected by either one of the three commonest STHs. FEC was the most sensitive method in detection of the three helminth species. Conclusion. This study revealed that STH infections and nutritional status still remain a health concern among the Orang Asli children. These communal problems could be effectively controlled by regular monitoring of STH infection loads, administration of effective antihelminthic drug regimen, and also implementation of effective school nutritional programs.
  3. Foo PC, Chan YY, Mohamed M, Wong WK, Nurul Najian AB, Lim BH
    Anal. Chim. Acta, 2017 May 08;966:71-80.
    PMID: 28372729 DOI: 10.1016/j.aca.2017.02.019
    This study highlighted the development of a four target nitrocellulose-based nucleic acid lateral flow immunoassay biosensor in a dry-reagent strip format for interpretation of double-labelled double-stranded amplicons from thermostabilised triplex loop-mediated isothermal amplification assay. The DNA biosensor contained two test lines which captured biotin and texas red labelled amplicons; a LAMP internal amplification control line that captured digoxigenin labelled amplicon; and a chromatography control line that validated the functionality of the conjugated gold nanoparticles and membrane. The red lines on detection pad were generated when the gold nanoparticles conjugated antibody bound to the fluorescein labelled amplicons, and the capture agents bound to their specific hapten on the other 5' end of the double-stranded amplicon. The applicability of this DNA biosensor was demonstrated using amoebiasis-causing Entamoeba histolytica simultaneously with the non-pathogenic but morphologically identical Entamoeba dispar and Entamoeba moshkovskii. The biosensor detection limit was 10 E. histolytica trophozoites, and revealed 100% specificity when it was evaluated against 3 medically important Entamoeba species and 75 other pathogenic microorganisms. Heat stability test showed that the biosensor was stable for at least 181 days at ambient temperature. This ready-to-use and cold-chain-free biosensor facilitated the post-LAMP analysis based on visualisation of lines on strip instead of observation of amplicon patterns in agarose gel.
  4. Foo PC, Lee ZH, Chin CK, Subramaniam S, Chew BL
    Trop Life Sci Res, 2018 Jul;29(2):119-129.
    PMID: 30112145 DOI: 10.21315/tlsr2018.29.2.9
    Solanum melongena L. commonly known as the eggplant or brinjal comes from the family of Solanaceae, sharing the same ancestor with the tomato and potato. It is an economically important crop worldwide, being well studied for its medicinal properties, nutritional values and its role as an alternative model plant. The eggplant fruit has been previously used for treatments of various diseases such as bronchitis, asthma, arthritis and diabetes as well as its nutritive properties that are beneficial to the human diet. Plant transformation studies on the eggplant have been widely done for the production of transgenic eggplants harbouring genes that are beneficial for optimal plant growth and fruit production. Shoot induction is an essential step required for the successful regeneration of transformed plant tissues and therefore is an essential pre-requisite in Agrobacterium-mediated transformation. The local eggplant cv. Bulat Putih is a local cultivar of eggplant in Malaysia with white and round fruits making it a potential model plant colour pigment accumulation studies in fruit crops. The current work aims to investigate the shoot induction potential of 6-benzylaminopurine (BAP) and Kinetin from cotyledon explants of eggplant cv. Bulat Putih. Results indicated that both BAP and Kinetin were able to induce the regeneration of callus from cotyledon explants. On the other hand, Kinetin at the concentration of 2.0 mg/L successfully induced shoots at the value of 1.50 ± 0.22 shoots per explant, whereas BAP alone did not trigger any formation of shoots. This study indicated that kinetin alone is sufficient to induce shoots in eggplant cv. Bulat Putih without the presence of BAP.
  5. Wong WK, Foo PC, Olivos-Garcia A, Noordin R, Mohamed Z, Othman N, et al.
    Acta Trop., 2017 Aug;172:208-212.
    PMID: 28506795 DOI: 10.1016/j.actatropica.2017.05.017
    Crude soluble antigen (CSA) produced from Entamoeba histolytica trophozoite is conventionally used for serodiagnosis of invasive amoebiasis. However, high background seropositivities by CSA-assay in endemic areas complicate the interpretation of positive result in clinical settings. Instead, incorporating a second assay which indicates active or recent infection into the routine amoebic serology could possibly complement the limitations of CSA-assay. Hence, the present study aimed to evaluate the diagnostic efficacies of indirect ELISAs using CSA and excretory-secretory antigen (ESA) for serodiagnosis of amoebic liver abscess (ALA). Reference standard for diagnosis of ALA at Hospital Universiti Sains Malaysia is based on clinical presentation, radiological imaging and positive indirect haemagglutination assay (titer ≥256). Five groups of human serum samples collected from the hospital included Group I - ALA diagnosed by the reference standard and pus aspirate analysis using real-time PCR (n=10), Group II - ALA diagnosed by the reference standard only (n=41), Group III - healthy control (n=45), Group IV - other diseases control (n=51) and Group V - other infectious diseases control (n=31). For serodiagnosis of ALA serum samples (Group I and II), CSA-ELISA showed sensitivities of 100% for both groups, while ESA-ELISA showed sensitivities of 100% and 88%, respectively. For serodiagnosis of non-ALA serum samples (Group III, IV and V), CSA-ELISA showed specificities of 91%, 75% and 100%, respectively; while ESA-ELISA showed specificities of 96%, 98% and 100%, respectively. Indirect ELISAs using CSA and ESA have shown distinct strength for serodiagnosis of ALA, in terms of sensitivity and specificity, respectively. In conclusion, parallel analysis by both assays improved the overall efficacies of amoebic serology as compared to either single assay.
  6. Engku Nur Syafirah EAR, Nurul Najian AB, Foo PC, Mohd Ali MR, Mohamed M, Yean CY
    Acta Trop., 2018 Jun;182:223-231.
    PMID: 29545156 DOI: 10.1016/j.actatropica.2018.03.004
    Cholera, caused by Vibrio cholerae is a foodborne disease that frequently reported in food and water related outbreak. Rapid diagnosis of cholera infection is important to avoid potential spread of disease. Among available diagnostic platforms, loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) is regarded as a potential diagnostic tool due to its rapidity, high sensitivity and specificity and independent of sophisticated thermalcycler. However, the current LAMP often requires multiple pipetting steps, hence is susceptible to cross contamination. Besides, the strict requirement of cold-chain during transportation and storage make its application in low resource settings to be inconvenient. To overcome these problems, the present study is aimed to develop an ambient-temperature-stable and ready-to-use LAMP assay for the detection of toxigenic Vibrio cholerae in low resource settings. A set of specific LAMP primers were designed and tested against 155 V. cholerae and non-V. cholerae strains. Analytical specifity showed that the developed LAMP assay detected 100% of pathogenic V. cholerae and did not amplified other tested bacterial strains. Upon testing against stool samples spiked with toxigenic V. cholerae outbreak isolates, the LAMP assay detected all of the spiked samples (n = 76/76, 100%), in contrast to the conventional PCR which amplified 77.6% (n = 59/76) of the tested specimens. In term of sensitivity, the LAMP assay was 100-fold more sensitive as compared to the conventional PCR method, with LOD of 10 fg per μL and 10 CFU per mL. Following lyophilisation with addition of lyoprotectants, the dry-reagent LAMP mix has an estimated shelf-life of 90.75 days at room temperature.
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