02458-A: A Laboratory Test for Detecting Drug Resistance in Canine Heartworm Disease

Grant Status: Closed

Grant Amount: $15,000
Matt Brewer, DVM, PhD; Iowa State University
February 1, 2018 - January 31, 2020

Sponsor(s): AKC Reunite, United States Australian Shepherd Foundation

Breed(s): -All Dogs
Research Program Area: Immunology and Infectious Disease
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Dirofilaria immitis is the nematode parasite that causes heartworm disease in the United States. Heartworm infection causes severe pathology and, until recently, heartworm infection was a preventable disease due to the availability of effective monthly preventative treatments. A recent development shows drug-resistant heartworms have emerged in the United States. The scope of the resistance issue has not yet been characterized because there is a need to develop a test that can discriminate drug-susceptible and drug-resistant parasites. Recent research assessed computer-aided motility studies of the parasite in the presence of drugs demonstrated there are not motility differences among parasite isolates in these assays. The investigators have developed biochemical stains and measurements that can quantify parasite killing in the presence of anti-parasitic drugs. In this study, the investigators will evaluate various metabolic assays and staining procedures to compare drug-susceptible and drug-resistant heartworm isolates to identify the best assay for detecting heartworm killing, and thereby create a tool to rapidly identify resistant infections in dogs.


Jesudoss Chelladurai, J. R. J., Martin, K. A., Chinchilla-Vargas, K., Jimenez Castro, P. D., Kaplan, R. M., & Brewer, M. T. (2020). Laboratory assays reveal diverse phenotypes among microfilariae of Dirofilaria immitis isolates with known macrocyclic lactone susceptibility status. PLOS ONE, 15(8), e0237150. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0237150

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