Novel blood test for tuberculosis could also identify high risk of infection

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Research efforts have demonstrated the potential of a novel phage-based blood assay that could identify individuals most at risk of developing tuberculosis (TB), in addition to diagnosing established cases. The work, published in Clinical Infectious Diseases, sees scientists from the University of Nottingham (UK), the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), Leicester Biomedical Research Centre (BRC, UK) and the Royal Veterinary College (London, UK) collaborating in the first human trial for this diagnostic tool, termed Actiphage.

Senior author Pranabashis Haldar (University of Leicester) commented: “TB is the leading cause of death from an infectious disease. It most commonly affects the lungs and from this site is transmitted to others by coughing and sneezing. As there is a lack of diagnostic tools for people unable to bring up sputum, diagnosis is delayed, increasing the likelihood that the disease is spread.”

Novel phage-based blood assay, Actiphage, uses bacteriophage to infect and lyse live Mycobacterium tuberculosis, releasing DNA that can be detected. The tool was tested for its ability to detect M. tuberculosis bacteremia in  four study groups: those with active pulmonary TB, those with latent TB and thus at risk of later disease progression, a control group of patients referred for suspected TB but found not to have the disease, and a control group of healthy individuals.

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