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BackgroundLeishmania donovani (LD) is a protozoan parasite transmitted to humans from sand flies, which causes Visceral Leishmaniasis (VL). Currently, the diagnosis is based on presence of the anti-LD antibodies and clinical symptoms. Molecular diagnosis would require real-time PCR, which is not easy to implement at field settings. In this study, we report on the development and testing of a recombinase polymerase amplification (RPA) assay for the detection of LD.MethodsA genomic DNA sample was applied to determine the assay analytical sensitivity. The cross-reactivity of the assay was tested by DNA of Leishmania spp. and of pathogens considered for differential diagnosis. The clinical performance of the assay was evaluated on LD positive and negative samples. All results were compared with real-time PCR. To allow the use of the assay at field settings, a mobile suitcase laboratory (56 × 45.5 × 26.5 cm) was developed and operated at the local hospital in Mymensingh, Bangladesh.ResultsThe LD RPA assay detected equivalent to one LD genomic DNA. The assay was performed at constant temperature (42 °C) in 15 min. The RPA assay also detected other Leishmania species (L. major, L. aethiopica and L. infantum), but did not identify nucleic acid of other pathogens. Forty-eight samples from VL, asymptomatic and post-kala-azar dermal leishmaniasis subjects were detected positive and 48 LD-negative samples were negative by both LD RPA and real-time PCR assays, which indicates 100 % agreement. The suitcase laboratory was successfully operated at the local hospital by using a solar-powered battery. DNA extraction was performed by a novel magnetic bead based method (SpeedXtract), in which a simple fast lysis protocol was applied. Moreover, All reagents were cold-chain independent.ConclusionsThe mobile suitcase laboratory using RPA is ideal for rapid sensitive and specific detection of LD especially at low resource settings and could contribute to VL control and elimination programmes.

Original publication




Journal article


Parasites & vectors

Publication Date





Center for Nutrition and Food Security, International Center for Diarrheal Disease Research, Bangladesh, Dhaka, Bangladesh.


Animals, Humans, Leishmania donovani, Leishmaniasis, Visceral, Recombinases, DNA, Protozoan, Sensitivity and Specificity, Feasibility Studies, Nucleic Acid Amplification Techniques, Time Factors, Mobile Health Units, Bangladesh