Wadddlia chondrophila and infertility
Currently, at least 10-15% of couples worldwide are struggling to conceive . In fact, in 2010 48.5 million couples were unable to have a child after 5 years of trying . Subfertility describes any form of reduced fertility with >12 months of unwanted non-conception. A minority of cases involves male complications, while tubal damage and tubal obstructions (tubal pathology) cause 20-35% of female subfertility cases . The economic and psychological burden is substantial, due to expensive treatments and loss in productivity (e.g. depression is diagnosed in 40% of sub-fertile women ).

Miscarriage is one of the most common adverse pregnancy outcomes and will affect one in four women during their life. Infections have been associated with miscarriage and other adverse outcomes such as stillbirth and preterm delivery as well. More precisely, 15% of early miscarriages (<12 weeks of gestation) and 66% of late miscarriages (12–24 weeks of gestation) can be caused by viral or bacterial infections . Unfortunately, extensive investigations do not reveal a cause for many couples. Intracellular bacteria, such as Chlamydia trachomatis, Chlamydia abortus, Brucella abortus and Coxiella burnetii, are known intracellular bacteria associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes.

The intracellular bacterium Waddlia chondrophila is closely related to Chlamydia trachomatis, and is a likely cause of miscarriage in humans and strongly associated with tubal factor infertility . Recently, major WC putative immunogenic proteins were identified that can be used to measure antibody reactivity in human sera, in a species-specific ELISA .

At the moment, no commercial diagnostic tests are available for this human pathogen, despite its medical importance. The aim of PROZE is to develop an easy-to-use ELISA (WaddliaSCAN) to detect Waddlia chondrophila antibodies in patients serum. This new diagnostic test will enlarge the current arsenal of Chlamydia serology tools, to increase specificity and sensitivity of current triage of sub-fertile women prior to IVF and provide information about possible causes of (early) miscarriage.

PROZE is financed by the Horizon 2020 SME Innovation Associate Programme.