Dr. Antonio Campos-Neto, head of the department of Cytokine Biology at The Forsyth Institute, has received a major grant from the internationally renowned Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) to continue his work to develop a test to diagnose active Tuberculosis (TB), the world's second deadliest infectious disease. Dr. Campos-Neto aims to create a rapid, sensitive, non-invasive and accurate TB diagnostic test, modeled after a pregnancy test, which would identify the TB bacterium's molecules present in a patient's urine.
TB is a leading cause of death worldwide, with 1.7 million deaths and 9 million new active cases annually. TB cases are already at epidemic levels in Africa and are on the rise in developing countries throughout the world, particularly among HIV/AIDS patients. This resurgence combined with the ease of transmission through coughing, sneezing and other common activities, and the emergence of drug resistant TB strains is leading to a growing fear of a global spread of the disease.
Among the main barriers to preventing the spread of TB are the shortcomings of existing diagnostic tests, including: inaccurate diagnoses, limited test sensitivity, invasive sample collection, time-consuming testing and most importantly, failure to distinguish between active and latent cases.
"We are in the preliminary stages of establishing a methodology that allows us to detect minute traces of the TB antigens that are excreted in the urine by a TB-infected patient. What is so exciting about this project is that if we are successful it will contribute tremendously to the control of a disease that kills close to two million people every year," says Dr. Campos-Neto.
The research has already detected molecules produced by TB in the urine of infected mice and humans. Establishing a test that can be used in a clinical setting offers several potential benefits:
|Contact: Matt Ellis|