Paper-based tuberculosis test could boost diagnoses in developing countries

September 13, 2017, American Chemical Society
This photomicrograph reveals Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria using acid-fast Ziehl-Neelsen stain; Magnified 1000 X. The acid-fast stains depend on the ability of mycobacteria to retain dye when treated with mineral acid or an acid-alcohol solution such as the Ziehl-Neelsen, or the Kinyoun stains that are carbolfuchsin methods specific for M. tuberculosis. Credit: public domain

Diagnosing tuberculosis (TB) early can allow patients to receive the medicine they need and also help prevent the disease from spreading. But in resource-limited areas, equipment requirements and long wait times for results are obstacles to diagnosis and treatment. To tackle this problem, scientists report in ACS Sensors the development of a fast, paper-based tuberculosis test that can be read with a smartphone.

The World Health Organization estimates that in 2015, 1.4 million people died from TB, with most of these deaths occurring in low- and middle-income countries. Early diagnosis could help curb these numbers. But conventional methods such as sputum smear microscopy, chest X-rays and molecular-based tests require equipment, electricity and specialized personnel that are not always available in remote or developing areas. So Chien-Fu Chen and colleagues set out to come up with a more practical diagnostic test that can be read with a smartphone, a technology that is increasingly available in emerging economies.

The researchers combined gold nanoparticles with fluorescent single-stranded DNA sequences that bind to the genetic material of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacteria that cause TB. These nanoparticles were then incorporated into a . Adding even a minute amount of lab-derived, double-stranded DNA from M. tuberculosis changed the color of the test spots within an hour. A smartphone camera was used to analyze the color change to determine the bacterial concentration. The researchers also tested a tissue sample from an infected patient to further demonstrate that the device could be used in the field.

Explore further: Scientists develop a quick, cheap and portable test for diagnosing tuberculosis

More information: "Diagnosis of Tuberculosis Using Colorimetric Gold Nanoparticles on a Paper-Based Analytical Device" ACS Sensors, pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acssensors.7b00450

Related Stories

A rapid, paper-based diagnostic test for tuberculosis

October 4, 2013

In a study published in the journal Science and Technology of Advanced Materials (STAM), researchers in Taiwan describe a simple, color-based diagnostic approach with the potential to detect target DNA sequences found in ...

A simple diagnostic test to detect tuberculosis in humans

May 29, 2015

Tuberculosis (TB) represents a growing worldwide healthcare burden. Second only to HIV in terms of its global impact, TB infected 8.5 million people and caused 1.4 million deaths in 2011. If these statistics are to improve, ...

Genetic sequencing offers same-day TB testing

March 9, 2017

Researchers have for the first time shown that standard tuberculosis (TB) diagnostic tests can be replaced by a sub-24 hour genetic test applied to the TB bacteria in a patient's sputum.

A better tool to diagnose tuberculosis

April 9, 2012

Up to 30% of the world's population is infected with Tuberculosis (TB), but in many areas of the world, TB diagnosis still relies on insensitive, poorly standardized, and time-consuming methods. A new diagnostic tool, endorsed ...

Recommended for you

Meteorite source in asteroid belt not a single debris field

February 17, 2019

A new study published online in Meteoritics and Planetary Science finds that our most common meteorites, those known as L chondrites, come from at least two different debris fields in the asteroid belt. The belt contains ...

Diagnosing 'art acne' in Georgia O'Keeffe's paintings

February 17, 2019

Even Georgia O'Keeffe noticed the pin-sized blisters bubbling on the surface of her paintings. For decades, conservationists and scholars assumed these tiny protrusions were grains of sand, kicked up from the New Mexico desert ...

Archaeologists discover Incan tomb in Peru

February 16, 2019

Peruvian archaeologists discovered an Incan tomb in the north of the country where an elite member of the pre-Columbian empire was buried, one of the investigators announced Friday.

Where is the universe hiding its missing mass?

February 15, 2019

Astronomers have spent decades looking for something that sounds like it would be hard to miss: about a third of the "normal" matter in the Universe. New results from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory may have helped them ...

What rising seas mean for local economies

February 15, 2019

Impacts from climate change are not always easy to see. But for many local businesses in coastal communities across the United States, the evidence is right outside their doors—or in their parking lots.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.