Optimized Diagnostics for Improved Treatment Stratification in Invasive Fungal Diseases (FUNGITECT)

Project Coordinator: Univ.-Prof. DDr. Thomas Lion (MD, PhD), MSc, Children´s Cancer Research Institute/Molecular Microbiology

Project Partners:
Medizinische Universität Wien (MUW), AUT
Fraunhofer Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Angewandten Forschung e. V., DEU
University of Tuzla, BIH
Molzym GmbH & Co. KG, DEU
Genedata AG, CHE

Project summary, results and future outlook:
Invasive fungal disease (IFD) is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the growing number of immunocompromised individuals, including particularly cancer patients, and bone-marrow or organ transplant recipients. Timely pathogen detection is a prerequisite for effective therapy in patients with IFD. FUNGITECT focuses on this medical priority and the plan is to develop, validate and market a specific set of novel molecular diagnostic tests for IFD targeting fungal DNA-, RNA- and protein motifs, as well as the enzymatic activity of fungal pathogens. Additionally, FUNGITECT provides a unique opportunity to establish and implement highly effective diagnostic assays supported by Next-Generation Sequencing and a bioinformatics service platform, facilitating optimized treatment strategies adapted to individual patient requirements.
The establishment of a first line of rapid and inexpensive diagnostic tools based on standardized and validated assays including a) panfungal RQ-PCR, b) monoclonal antibody arrays, c) biochips detecting fungal enzymatic activity, and/or d) optimized PCR-based sequencing will permit rapid clinical implementation due to the low-costs and point-of-care applicability. For a second line of advanced fungal diagnostics, FUNGITECT will place particular emphasis on the development and exploitation of NGS-based technologies offering unprecedented diagnostic options for highly effective management of complex infectious diseases such as IFD.
The economic impact of implementing effective fungal diagnostics, as proposed in this project, is expected to be very significant. With the accurate diagnostic procedures introduced by FUNGITECT, the efficiency in the management of invasive fungal diseases will provide an economic landmark. It could represent the beginning in the inversion of the cost escalation inherently related to inadequate diagnostic methods resulting in suboptimal patient management often leading to significant overtreatment. In addition to expected benefits regarding the future economic development of the participating SMEs, the entire field of fungal diagnostics can profit from the new diagnostic possibilities. The FUNGITECT consortium will contribute to achieving durable integration in the European Research Area and to fostering European competitiveness and excellence.

Funded under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7-HEALTH-2013-INNOVATION-1) by the European Commission
Duration: 01.01.2014 – 31.12.2017