At present, screening of the population at risk for gambiense human African trypanosomiasis (HAT) is based on detection of antibodies against naive variant surfance glycoproteins (VSGs) of Trypanosoma brucei (T.b.) gambiense. Drawbacks of these native VSGs include culture of infective T.b gambiense trypanosomes in laboratory rodents, necessary for production, and the exposure of non-specific epitopes that may cause cross-reactions. We therefore aimed at identifying peptides that mimic epitopes, hence called 'mimotopes', specific to T.b. gambiense VSGs and that may resplace the native proteins in antibody detection tests.
The article presenting this research has been published in PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases and is available here.