New blood test could identify people at risk of TB.


On July 11, 2019

By Appolonia Adeyemi 

Scientists in the United Kingdom (UK) have raised hope of not only tracking new patients that are down with tuberculosis (TB) but also identify those at most risk of developing the disease.

Findings of the new study was published in the journal ‘Clinical Infectious Diseases’.

The research conducted at the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Leicester Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) and the University of Nottingham’s School of Biosciences, used new blood test called Actiphage to look for the presence of the bacteria that cause TB (Mycobacterium tuberculosis; MTB).

The new blood test was used to test all of the patients twice, 12 months apart, according to a report in the ‘Medical Xpress’.

The researchers said Actiphage tested positive in 73 per cent of people that we subsequently diagnosed with TB—for an experimental study this was a much higher level than expected. None of the participants in the control groups tested positive with Actiphage and none of the patients with latent TB who tested negative with Actiphage went on to develop active TB.

However, two of the three participants with latent TB infection who tested positive with Actiphage went on to develop the disease more than six months later, suggesting the test may have a predictive role in identifying people with the infection at risk of developing the disease.

Tuberculosis is an infectious disease that usually affects the lungs and can be life threatening if not properly treated with antibiotics.

Compared with other diseases caused by a single infectious agent, tuberculosis is the second biggest killer, globally.

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Senior author of the paper, Dr. Pranabashis Haldar, Clinical Senior Lecturer at the University of Leicester and Consultant in Respiratory Medicine at Leicester’s Hospitals, said: “There is potential for Actiphage to be developed, both as a mainstream blood test to diagnose TB and as a test used in screening programmes to help us identify and treat people with latent infection.

“Our observations provide new insights into how human TB develops and support recent evidence of the existence of a transitional state of TB infection called incipient TB that does not produce symptoms but carries a high risk of progressing to active TB.”

He added:”As a blood test, it is particularly suitable for patients unable to produce sputum, including children, and may help support diagnosis in underserved groups that struggle to access freely available healthcare resources.”

The team analysed 66 participants categorised in four groups: those with active pulmonary TB, those with latent TB, a control group of patients referred for suspected TB but found not to have the disease, and a control group of healthy individuals.

According to Haldar, TB 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.

Around a quarter of the world’s population carry the infection. In the vast majority, this is in the form of latent TB, which does not affect their health, but carries a risk of progressing to the active form of TB in around ten per cent of those infected.

Source : New Telegraph

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