Early results show the method of detecting TB by identifying a combination of telltale proteins – or biomarkers – in blood samples is up to 94% accurate, compared with the 40% to 60% accuracy of analysing sputum samples under a microscope in field conditions.
TB is the number one cause of death by infection in the world today killing about two million people. Yet most deaths from TB are easily preventable by early diagnosis and treatment.
The microscope sputum diagnostic test is most commonly used in developing countries, where there is a disproportionately high incidence of TB. As well as being unreliable, this test must often be repeated on three occasions to yield reliable results.
Currently, the new blood test uses an expensive tool known as ELISA to detect levels of biomarkers. Scientists aim to develop the method into a simple ‘dipstick’ test that will be cheap, accurate and produce quick results.
Professor Sanjeev Krishna, Professor of Molecular Parasitology and Medicine at St George’s, has been leading the research. He said: “We are putting forward a completely fresh approach to look at an ancient problem. I think it is going to be very exciting to make this work in clinics where a test for TB is desperately needed. The next stage will be to use the biomarkers we have identified to develop a cheap, accurate and rapid diagnostic test that can be used easily and quickly out in the field.”
About one-third of the world’s population carries the TB bacterium, Mycobacterium tuberculosis. A tenth of these will later develop the debilitating lung illness, often because their immune system is compromised by HIV infection or cancer.
“Improving diagnostic accuracy will have a massive impact on managing TB,” says Professor Krishna. Treatment is a lengthy, costly process: patients must take four different antibiotics for two months, followed by two antibiotic drugs for a further four months.
“If a clinic could rule out TB infection reliably using these types of tests, this would enable valuable resources to be targeted at the patients who need treatment,” Professor Krishna explains.
The initial results of the test were published in The Lancet last September.
Tamsin Starr | alfa
New findings help to better calculate the oceans’ contribution to climate regulation
14.11.2018 | Jacobs University Bremen gGmbH
How algae and carbon fibers could sustainably reduce the athmospheric carbon dioxide concentration
14.11.2018 | Technische Universität München
Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.
Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...
Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.
In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...
On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.
When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure
Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...
Physicists at ETH Zurich demonstrate how errors that occur during the manipulation of quantum system can be monitored and corrected on the fly
The field of quantum computation has seen tremendous progress in recent years. Bit by bit, quantum devices start to challenge conventional computers, at least...
09.11.2018 | Event News
06.11.2018 | Event News
23.10.2018 | Event News
14.11.2018 | Materials Sciences
14.11.2018 | Health and Medicine
14.11.2018 | Life Sciences