18 Sep 2006   |   News

Biomarkers pave the way for new rapid TB diagnostic


Scientists at St George’s, University of London have come up with a new way of detecting TB using unique biomarkers. The test is 94 per cent accurate and can be developed into a simple serum test. They are now looking to use the biomarkers to develop a cheap, accurate and rapid diagnostic test that can be used easily and quickly out in the field.

Sanjeev Krishna in the Centre for Infection, in collaboration with the National Institute of Medical Research (UK), has identified a complex signature in serum TB that is not present in samples from other infections and lung diseases. He is now ready to discuss possible partnership or investment opportunities.

Currently, the diagnosis of TB involves examining at sputum with a light microscope, a technique with a sensitivity of only 40 – 60 percent under field conditions. Sputum culture is more precise but takes between 2 – 6 weeks, and it not routinely carried out in countries with a high prevalence of TB.

The key to reducing death rates from TB, and to stopping its transmission, is to diagnose and start treatment on the first visit to a clinic.

Krishna 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.”


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