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Hope for new TB test

Monday August 12th, 2013

New tests for TB could be developed following discoveries at a British university, it has been announced.

Researchers say it is decades since new treatments or tests have been developed for the disease.

The research has identified fragments of proteins when the disease takes hold in the lungs.

The fragments come from key proteins in the lung, collagen and elastin.

The study pin-pointed one fragment, PIIINP, as being a key marker in blood samples.

Researcher Dr Paul Elkin, from Southampton University, said simpler tests for TB might enable population screening.

The research, reported in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, also involved Imperial College, London, and the University of Cape Town, South Africa.

Dr Elkin said: "Tuberculosis continues to kill almost one and a half million people worldwide and is becoming increasingly resistant to drugs used to treat it. First-line TB tests and treatments in the developing world have not changed for over 30 years.

“These lung breakdown products have never been identified in TB before, and have the potential to be used as new markers to identify patients with TB and monitor the effect of new treatments on lung damage."

Bill Bishai, director of the KwaZulu-Natal Research Institute for Tuberculosis and HIV, Durban, South Africa, said: “This study is a major step forward towards finding improved tests for diagnosing TB and for determining whether the TB is improving with therapy or worsening with therapy as such would be seen when patients have resistant TB.

"Improved diagnostic tests are desperately needed, not only to improve patient care in resource-poor countries, but also to accelerate clinical trials with new therapies.”

Journal of Infectious Diseases 6 August 2013; doi:10.1093/infdis/jit343 [abstract]

Tags: Africa | Pharmaceuticals | Respiratory | UK News

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