Researchers Develop Potentially Less-Expensive, Faster Method For Diagnosing TB

“A potentially cheaper and faster method for diagnosing tuberculosis (TB) has been developed by researchers” at the University of Basel, Switzerland, “who hope to test it in Tanzania,” according to a study published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology last week, SciDev.Net reports. “The lack of a cheap, quick and accurate test makes it hard to control the TB epidemic, which claims millions of lives every year in developing countries,” according to the news service.

“The new method … uses a microcalorimeter to detect heat produced by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium that causes TB, on a growth medium,” SciDev.Net writes.  “But Ruth McNerney, who studies pathogen biology and diagnostics at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, United Kingdom, and is a member of the Stop TB Partnership’s working group on new diagnostics, told SciDev.Net: ‘I don’t think this test has any added value as a TB diagnostic test in developing countries where microbiology culture facilities for TB are rare'” because “‘[t]he study does not confirm the presence of bacteria, only the fact that something is growing, and you would then need to do a confirmatory test,’ she said,” the news service reports (Zorlu, 8/30).