Blood test to diagnose pulmonary tuberculosis

Researchers at the University of Birmingham have made a breakthrough discovery in the fight against tuberculosis-which is resistant to antibiotics-by detecting a new biomarker that signals response.

The biomarker which is produced as part of a small blood donation trial could help healthcare professionals target immune cells for the treatment of cases rather than settling for blood tests.

The team have identified a biomarker that can both identify individuals who are responding to treatment and indicate relapse. In a paper published today in the journal Energy Nanotechnologies the team describe how they screened candidate antibiotics with 20-25 nanograms within their blood samples for presence of the biomarker and were able to detect the presence of it.

The tests were tested in collaboration with manufacturers with collaboration programmes set up with partners and partners and it was observed that the molecules were detected using an enhanced powerful microscope (Alwassa) at the University of Birmingham.

Senior author and Head of the Bristol Nanotechnology Laboratories Dr Augustine Birchall said: Although the test with Alwassa was successful we believe it will now be important to use it in conjunction with other approaches in the fight against TB as it has already been identified in our blood samples.

We believe these tests could also form part of a much larger band of work to build up large reserves of potential biomarkers that are being sought to be developed into small fast-acting and inexpensive diagnostic measures that could help doctors to screen more quickly and accurately identify which patients would most likely relapse in the long term and which might be useful in slowing progression of the TB-causing disease.