A new triage test for active tuberculosis answers the WHO’s call for blood-based diagnostics
Luke Turner | | Quick Read
Over 10 million people have active tuberculosis (ATB) globally – but laboratory testing is expensive and sputum-based testing is slow and inaccurate. After the World Health Organization (WHO) called for a greater focus on blood-based tests, a collaborative team have developed an ultrasensitive, multiplexed triage test that analyzes the levels of four proteins in the blood. With 86 percent sensitivity and 69 percent specificity, the test could become a point-of-care diagnostic that costs just US$2 and provides results in 30 minutes (1).
David Walt of the Wyss Institute hopes the test will lower the barrier to care in low-resource settings. “Once we improve the sensitivity and specificity to meet WHO standards, we will deploy the test in clinics and hospitals in the developing world before introducing it to more rural settings,” he explains. The new test can detect different strains of ATB and its results are not affected by HIV infection status.
- R Ahmad et al., “A rapid triage test for active pulmonary tuberculosis in adult patients with persistent cough”, Sci Transl Med, 11, 515 (2019). PMID: 31645455.