Sunday, March 26, 2017 (Digital Journal) – Scientists develop a new Blood Test to identify TB infections. Estimates indicate that tuberculosis kills over one million people every year. Health professionals from Texas, New York and London team up to develop a new blood test to diagnose tuberculosis.

"In the current frontlines of TB testing, a complete evaluation includes patient’s medical history, a physical examination, a chest X-ray, and microbiological examination. It may also include a skin test, and surgical biopsy. Tony Hu at the Arizona State University led the efforts to develop a new test. His method combines nanoparticles with high-throughput mass spectrometry to measure peptides from Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

Tuberculosis – a major health problem

Every year, millions of dollars are spent on general care and prevention efforts, but tuberculosis remains a major issue for people with Hiv Infections. The breakthrough comes after experts warned that a rise in drug-resistant strains of TB was threatening to derail efforts to eradicate the disease. Tony says TB thrives in poor socio-economic conditions, where people live in overcrowded homes, have poor nutrition, high rates of smoking and where diabetes is commonplace. Speedy diagnosis means patients can quickly begin their recovery.

An estimate reveals that up to five million people may have dormant infections. TB treatments prevented over 20 million deaths between 2012 and 2016, but the illness remains epidemic due to the lack of effective vaccines.

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The newly developed blood test outperforms all other tests. Tony Hu says the test is completed within minutes. It is an important advance because effective diagnosis reduces the risks of illness. This assay could significantly improve the diagnosis because it is the first technique that measures the severity of illness.

The benefit of NanoDisk-MS assay

Researchers say NanoDisk-MS assay accurately detects proteins (CFP-10 and ESAT-6). TB bacteria release these proteins during active infections. Current TB assays are not useful for patients with HIV infections. People with tuberculosis often require tissue biopsies for diagnosis. In contrast, NanoDisk-MS assay detects TB cases within minutes regardless of patient HIV status.

Tuberculosis is a widespread disease caused by various strains of mycobacteria. The symptoms include a chronic cough accompanied by blood-tinged sputum. Other symptoms are fever, night sweats, and weight loss. Tuberculosis is transmitted by people, and thrives in the crowded conditions of prisons, refugee camps and slums. The study is published in this week’s journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.”