With statistics of people dying from tuberculosis getting more alarming each day, it is no wonder that scientists are trying relentlessly to come up with an adequate response to this crisis. Their efforts have not been in vain, however. This new blood test brings hope for victims of tuberculosis.
A team of researchers from Stanford University have just published a paper in the Lancet Respiratory Medicine journal, detailing the discovery of a new blood test, which could potentially change the way tuberculosis is diagnosed and treated around the world.
It is called the Khatri test and it can accurately diagnose active tuberculosis from an ordinary blood sample. Unlike the previous tests, this method does not require the collection of sputum.
According to scientists, Khatri is 99% accurate and it can be used even in the most basic medical facilities, from rural to undeveloped parts of the world.
Purvesh Khatri, the lead author of the paper, explains that villages that are not connected to electricity can perform this test using normal blood samples and a PCR system that uses solar energy, which will multiply strands of DNA.
The results proved the fact that this method works even if the patient is infected with HIV. Normally, it would be very difficult to diagnose tuberculosis in people who are infected with this deadly virus.
Since many of them usually present a false negative result when tested using the sputum smear method, this has resulted in a lot of tuberculosis victims being undiagnosed.
The team of researchers managed to identify three human genes that would constantly change their expression, thus revealing an active tuberculosis infection.
This three-gene test was further validated in a different set involving 1,400 human samples taken from 11 sets of data, which confirmed its accuracy in diagnosing the disease.
Some of the institutions and foundations that helped fund this project are the National Library of Medicine, the National Institute of Allergy and Infection Diseases and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Tuberculosis is one of the most dangerous infections of our centuries, which affect the lungs and potentially other organs, such as the kidney, the spine or even the brain.
It is a highly contagious disease, being able to spread through sneezing, coughing or even speaking near people who are not infected.
About one third of the globe’s population is currently suffering from TB and around 1.5 million people die annually because of it.
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