New Tests could revolutionise TB care

15 September 2010


Shortly after the announcement by a team from the US funded by the Swiss Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics that they had developed a way of diagnosing Tuberculosis within two hours, that could be applied in low income countries, a team from the UK Health Protection Agency laboratories announced today that they have developed an even faster means of detection.

The WHO has already commented that such approaches, offer a major breakthrough in treatment regimes, currently based on DOTS ( Directly Observed Therapy, Short-course) and DOTS-Plus which, at greater cost, examines drug susceptibility. These approaches require a sputum smear to be sampled grown and then inspected under a microscope. This can take from 5 days to over 5 weeks and is not very reliable. The new tests can also detect multi drug resistant variants of TB, common amongst people living with HIV/AIDS and would cut down the period in which further infection can occur.

However, while celebrating this breakthrough it is important to consider how such technology could be made available to resource poor countries and rural areas. DOTS has developed as a very effective low technology approach that is affordable, in its basic form, in all countries. The health system implications of these new developments will require further examination by the Health Ministries and Research Teams of all countries in the front line of TB treatment.

Read more about the US/Swiss development at
http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/48596/20100902/tb-tuberculosis-xpert-mtb-rif-who-find-cepheid.htm
And the UK PHA development at:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-11297640

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