Researchers from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and The University of Pittsburgh have developed an onsite method to quickly diagnose tuberculosis (TB) and expose the deadly drug-resistant strains that can mingle undetected with treatable TB strains. This study will be published in PLoS ONE, a peer-reviewed online journal from the Public Library of Science.
The researchers engineered bacteriophages, tiny viruses that attack bacteria, with a green fluorescence protein (GFP) implanted in their genome. Bacteriophages spread by injecting their DNA into bacterial cells. In this case, the GFP gene accompanies the DNA of the phage into the Mycobacterium tuberculosis cell, the bacterium that causes TB, causing the cell to glow. A clinician could detect the glow with equipment available at many clinics.
"The development of these reporter flurophages allows us to bypass the existing method of diagnosing TB, which requires cultivating slow-growing bacteria in a biosafety level 3 environment, a time-consuming and costly process," says William R. Jacobs, Jr., Ph.D., one of the authors of the study. "By infecting live M. tuberculosis cells with a flurophage, a quick and highly sensitive visual reading can be done. We are optimistic that we can move the diagnostic process from several weeks to several days or even hours, which could have a significant impact on treatment."
"A report from South Africa showed that the extensively drug-resistant TB strains can kill within 16 days, on average," says Graham Hatfull, Ph.D., the lead author and close collaborator of Dr. Jacobs. "In rural Africa, it takes too long to collect samples, send them off, do the test, and have the data sent back. Clinicians need rapid, relatively cheap, and simple methods for detecting TB and drug-resistant strains in the local clinic. This test provides a quick diagnosis so the patient can be isolated and treated."
Besides quick diagnosis, the test also could be used to distinguish treatable TB strains from those that are drug resistant (DR-TB) and extensively drug resistant (XDR-TB), which normally takes months. Researchers treated M. tuberculosis with antibiotics at the same time the bacteriophages were introduced; the TB strains that were sensitive to antibiotics died, but the drug-resistant cells survived and continued to glow.
The study, "Fluoromycobacteriophages for Rapid, Specific, and Sensitive Antibiotic Susceptibility Testing of Mycobacterium tuberculosis," will appear in the March 19, 2009 edition of PLoS ONE.
The group's research was funded as part of a major new research initiative from Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). HHMI announced on March 19 that it will partner with University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa to establish an international research center focused on the TB and HIV coepidemics, called KwaZulu-Natal Research Institute for TB-HIV (K-RITH). Dr. Jacobs will direct research into developing rapid and effective TB tests, one of the new institute's primary objectives. His work with Hatfull and postdoctoral fellow Mariana Piuri on the flurophage study was related to that effort.
Deirdre Branley | EurekAlert!
Further reports about: > Bacteriophages > DNA > GFP > HHMI > HIV > KwaZulu-Natal > Mycobacterium > Mycobacterium tuberculosis > Mycobacterium tuberculosis cell > PLoS One > Pitt vaccine > TB test > TB-HIV > XDR-TB > deadly drug-resistant strains > diagnostic process > drug-resistant strains > flurophages
Rabies viruses reveal wiring in transparent brains
19.01.2017 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
On track to heal leukaemia
18.01.2017 | Universitätsspital Bern
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
19.01.2017 | Earth Sciences
19.01.2017 | Life Sciences
19.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy