Hammerschmidt, S., S. Wolff, A. Hocke, S. Rosseau, E. Muller, and M. Rohde. 2005. Illustration of pneumococcal polysaccharide capsule during adherence and invasion of epithelial cells. Infect Immun 73:4653-4667.


The serological diagnosis of pneumococcal disease on the basis of a single antigen is a challenge, because natural antibodies caused by previous colonization events and the antigenic variability of pneumococci are impaired. A combination of validated immunogenic antigens high-throughput diagnostics is needed to differentiate diseased and healthy people
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Streptococcus pneumoniae, also known as the pneumococcus, is a Gram-positive pathogen recognized as a major cause of pneumonia worldwide. It resides as a commensal in the nasopharynx of healthy carriers, but in susceptible individuals this bacterium can spread to other body locations and cause life-threatening disease. The main group risks are the elderly, immunocompromised people and infants. In fact, approximately 900,000 children die each year due to pneumococcal disease, of which >90% occur in developing countries. In addition, a high number of pneumococcal infection cases are diagnosed in developed countries and can be associated with high morbidity in children and are an important factor that influences quality of life and produces significant mortality in adults. There are licensed polysaccharide-based vaccines to prevent pneumococcal infections, but their efficacy is limited. Therefore, pneumococcal community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) remains as an important health problem and once it has occurred, early diagnosis with accurate diagnostic methods is essential in order to provide patients with prompt and appropriate therapy. The ability to identify pneumococci as a causative agent in lung infections is quite limited and blood cultures are often negative. Serological diagnosis of pneumococcal disease based on a single antigen is often challenging, due to the interference of natural antibodies elicited by previous colonization events and the antigenic variability. Therefore, to better discriminate between diseased and healthy people, a combination of antigens would be desirable.


The Project

The aim of PNEUMOFLUIDICS is to develop an innovative point-of-care diagnostic for the early detection of Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus) infections on a serological basis. Results of multiplex analyses will be transferred to a microfluidic protein array (MPA), i.e. a biosensor on which proteins are immobilized and on which a novel serodiagnostic method can be established with minimal serum samples.


The Science

Research aims to develop a sensitive and quantitative tests for the rapid and specific detection of pneumococcal infections. For the validation of a microfluidic protein array (MPA), the detection of IgM antibodies as well as specific IgG antibodies will be performed in larger patient cohorts using initially well-established multiplex platforms for pneumococcal antigens. Selected pneumococcal antigens can also be used for immunostrips that will be probed with independent sets of patient sera. These immunostrips are a diagnostic test can be an easy-to-use tool for diagnosis in healthcare systems, especially in low-resource areas. The pneumococcal-specific MPA will be further used for a broad range of applications such as monitoring epidemiological episodes or discovering new protein vaccine candidates. This strategy will help to distinguish between patients with different diseases. The multiplex platforms or MPA can be employed in epidemiological surveillance programs to monitor possible outbreaks of pneumococcal disease around the world.


The Team

The PNEUMOFLUIDICS partners are:

  • Coordinator : Prof. Dr. Sven Hammerschmidt,  Department of Molecular Genetics and Infection Biology, Interfaculty Institute of Genetics and Functional Genomics, Center for Functional Genomcis of Microbes,Universität Greifswald, Germany. 
  • Brio Apps AlphaSip S.L. (BAA), Calle María de Luna 11, Nave 13, Zaragoza 50018, Spain, represented by the CEO, Miguel Angel Roncalés Poza
  • Prof. Dr. Manuel J. Rodríguez Ortega, Departamento de Bioquímica y Biología Molecular, Edificio "Severo Ochoa", planta baja Campus de Rabanales, Universidad de Córdoba, Spain (subpartner of Brio Apps Alphasip)
  • Prof Dr. Shinta Purwanto, Universitas Sam Ratulangi (USR), Jalan Kampus Bahu Malalayang, Kota Manado 95115, North Sulawesi Utara, Indonesia
  • Dodi Safari, PhD, Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology, Jl. Diponegoro no 69, Jakarta, Indonesia 10430 (associated partner)
  • Dr. Moh Moh Htun, MBBS, MMedSc, PhD (Pathology),  Director (Research), Biomedical Research Centre (BRC), Department of Medical Research, No. 5, Ziwaka Road, Dagon Township, Yangon 11191, Myanmar


Contact: Prof. Dr. Sven Hammerschmidt; Email: sven.hammerschmidt@uni-greifswald.de


Featured image from:  Hammerschmidt, S., S. Wolff, A. Hocke, S. Rosseau, E. Muller, and M. Rohde. 2005.