New test gives one-hour TB diagnosis: scientists

Sep 15, 2010

Scientists have developed a new test which can diagnose tuberculosis in one hour, potentially helping to curb the spread of the disease, a British health agency said in a study Wednesday.

The "ultra-rapid" is far quicker than traditional methods, which can take up to eight weeks and mean that patients, who are often from transient populations, move on untreated, said the Health Protection Agency (HPA).

"We're excited to have developed this new test because it means we can potentially diagnose someone at a TB clinic within an hour and start them immediately on the treatment they need," said Cath Arnold of the HPA, who led the study.

"This new test could really have an impact where it is most needed."

The new, highly sensitive test works by identifying a single molecule of DNA in the TB bacterium.

Current tests involve taking mucus from sufferers and growing a bacterial culture in the laboratory, which can take weeks.

"It will be a lot more effective," HPA spokeswoman Emma Gilgunn-Jones told AFP.

"Up to 75 percent of people with TB are transient and it is difficult if they are not treated straightaway because they can move on and infect people."

But it could be at least two years before the test appears on the market as it must now undergo extensive clinical trials which are starting in Britain soon, she added.

The agency's findings are due to be presented at a conference at the University of Warwick in central England on Wednesday.

The announcement comes less than two weeks after US researchers said they had developed a new test also using that could diagnose drug-resistant TB in two hours.

killed an estimated 1.8 million people worldwide in 2008, according to the , with the disease spreading fastest in South East Asia.

Drug-resistant TB is becoming a serious threat to global health, especially as only a small proportion of cases are diagnosed, the WHO warned. Almost half the drug-resistant cases were estimated to have occurred in China and India.

Explore further: Experimental Ebola drug heals all monkeys in study (Update)

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

WHO warns of drug-resistant TB

Sep 06, 2006

The World Health Organization in Switzerland has warned of a new strain of tuberculosis that is rapidly spreading and cannot be treated with current drugs.

WHO: Money, drugs needed to rein in new TB strains

Mar 23, 2009

(AP) -- More money and better science are urgently needed to rein in new strains of tuberculosis that are tough or nearly impossible to treat, the WHO announced Monday in China, where the disease has long been a leading ...

Drug-resistant tuberculosis rife in China

Dec 11, 2008

Levels of drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) in China are nearly twice the global average. Nationwide research published in the open access journal BMC Infectious Diseases has shown that almost 10% of Chinese TB cases are re ...

High rates of drug-resistant TB among UK prisoners

Mar 16, 2010

UK prisoners are significantly more likely to have drug resistant TB than other people with the disease, suggests research published ahead of print in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

Recommended for you

Ebola in mind, US colleges screen some students

Aug 29, 2014

University students from West Africa may be subject to extra health checks when they arrive to study in the United States as administrators try to insulate their campuses from the worst Ebola outbreak in ...

User comments : 0