A potential breakthrough is at hand, as new blood test could accurately diagnose tuberculosis (TB) in a way that is easy, cheap, and much more accurate than previous methods. The method could be potentially life-saving for those living in under developed nations, who severely lack proper means for testing.
- Tuberculosis (TB) annually infects 9.6 million people and kills 1.5 million each year
- A third of the global population is infected with TB, although not all are active
- The new Khatri blood test has an 86% accuracy in children and adults
- It also has a 99% accuracy in determining that the test is negative, especially in those with inactive infections
Researchers at Stanford University have made excellent progress in the field, by creating a blood test that could find traces of tuberculosis. Previous methods implied taking a sample of sputum or respiratory secretions of those who were infected with the disease. However, there was always an obstacle that was challenging to pass. It became difficult to acquire the sample and properly test it as the patients started recovering. Thus, doctors couldn’t tell just how effective the treatment was.
However, the new diagnostic method using blood samples, called the Khatri test, could be much more accurate for all types of patients. According to lead researcher and
the namesake of the new technique, Purvesh Khatri, the test could “study the effectiveness of treatments”. It will not only inform doctors of the active disease within the patient’s system, but it will also help them understand how well medication is working.
The simple blood test works by detecting three human genes that reveal the presence of an active tuberculosis infection. The team of scientists analyzed and separated them from over 1,400 samples from 11 data sets, which has aided in creating a truly accurate method.
According to the researchers, the Khatri blood test has an 86% accuracy for children, and it works on adults as well. Furthermore, it has a near immaculate 99% chance of properly informing doctors if the patient is no longer infected. That means there is a very small margin of error and low chances of a false positive. This could be life-saving for many patients.
It will not produce false positives for those who have an inactive TB infection or those who have been immunized through the vaccine. Another important factor is that the Khatri blood test could detect the presence of TB even in patients with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). And, since it’s such an inexpensive method and requires very minimal equipment, it will become available for hospitals with limited resources in under developed countries.
According to Dr. Khatri, “any hospital should be able to perform the test”. Even small villages without electricity could use ordinary blood samples and solar-powered PCR machines. It’s quick and inexpensive, so every healthcare facility around the world should be able to accurately test patients for TB.
Image source: medweb.ru