A team of researchers from Arizona, Texas and Washington DC has developed a rapid blood test for diagnosing and quantitating the severity of active tuberculosis (TB) cases. The diagnostic tests commonly being used for TB include coughed-up sputum, blood culture tests, invasive lung and lymph biopsies, or spinal taps. These tests take weeks to get the results and there are sometimes chances of false negativity as well.
The major problem with Mycobacterium tuberculosis (causal organism of TB) is that it can stay latent within the patient's body for years without getting detected. Upon a slight trigger, it can get activated and spread into a full blown disease.
TB treatment has prevented almost 50 million deaths between 2000 and 2015, but TB remains a worldwide epidemic due to the lack of an effective TB vaccine, the rise in drug-resistant strains and the relatively poor performance of the available TB diagnostics tests.
The new test is based on a NanoDisk-MS assay that accurately detects minute blood levels of two proteins, Cfp10 and Esat6, released only during active TB infection. This test is effective and much faster than others.
The diagnostic tests currently being used for TB show a reduced performance with HIV positive TB patients or with non-pulmonary TB infections. This NanoDisk-MS assay has a better sensitivity and shows equally good detection for pulmonary and non- pulmonary TB samples, and regardless of the patient's HIV status.
The researchers are hopeful that this new technology can be used with standard clinical instruments found in hospitals worldwide very soon.