Assay for Detecting and Quantifying Coccidioides


Researchers at TGen and Northern Arizona University (NAU) have developed a real-time qPCR assay for detecting and quantifying Coccidioides immitis and Coccidioides posadasii.  The highly sensitive and specific assay can be used by clinicians in rapidly diagnosing Coccidioidomycosis.  This assay can be particularly useful outside of the endemic regions of the Southwest US, Mexico, Central America, and South America, where clinicians have had less experience diagnosing such illness but may encounter cases in individuals that have traveled from these regions.


Coccidioidomycosis (aka Valley Fever) is caused by infections from Coccidioides immitis or Coccidioides posadasii, and commonly results in progressive pulmonary infection in humans and other vertebrate hosts but also can disseminate to other body parts (e.g., skin, brain, bone, meninges).  These disseminated infections are often severe and can result in death, however patients usually acquire a specific and lifelong immunity in cases were the infection can be resolved.  With the Coccidioidomycosis infection rates increasing, a timely and accurate diagnosis is important to enable positive patient outcomes.  Real-time PCR based assays have been previously developed which help clinicians identify Coccidioides as a cause of illness, but they are not informative enough to accurately quantify the load of the Coccidioides organisms in an infection.


The TGen and NAU-developed assay detects the ITS region, a multi-copy target having the advantage of being detected at low levels in comparison to a single-copy target.  By detecting the copy number of the ITS region, the assay provides a relative quantification of the Coccidioides fungal load.  The assay may be used with environmental samples, human samples, and animal samples.



Link to US Issued Patent No. 9,127,321

Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Katie Bray
Intellectual Property Counsel
The Translational Genomics Research Institute
Paul Keim
David Engelthaler
Elizabeth Driebe