Rapid identification of individuals with viable adult female worms of Onchocerca volvulus: a means to the end

This project completed in July 2017.

Rapid Identification of Individuals with Viable Adult Female Worms of Onchocerca Volvulus (OvAF-Oncho) is a collaborative project between the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). Other collaborative partners include Thomas Jefferson University and the New York Blood Center. Onchocerciasis—or “river blindness”—is caused by a parasitic worm that is transmitted to humans by black fly bites. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is targeting Onchocerciasis in an effort to control, eliminate, or eradicate the disease. Approximately 18 million people are infected, primarily in Africa, but mass distribution of the donated drug ivermectin has helped to eliminate the disease in many parts of Africa and South America. This project seeks to identify host- and parasite-specific biomarkers that are present in infected humans and develop point of care methods to detect these biomarkers, which can be used by health care workers to find and treat the remaining cases. This is an important step towards eliminating this disabling disease. Read about the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Neglected Tropical Disease Strategy here.


  • Identification of biomarkers associated with the presence of viable adult females of Onchocerca volvulus (OvAF)
  • Development of point of care rapid diagnostic for the presence or absence of viable OvAF


Public-Sector Partners:
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)

Private-Sector Partners:
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation*
New York Blood Center

Academic Partners:
Thomas Jefferson University

*Provided financial or in-kind support for this program.

FNIH Contact

Susan Wiener, Senior Project Manager, swiener@fnih.org