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Pitt-led researchers create quick, simple fluorescent detector for TB
Date:3/19/2009

to distinguish treatable TB strains from those that are drug resistant, a chore that can normally take months, Hatfull said. Hatfull and his colleagues treated M. tuberculosis with antibiotics at the same time the bacteriophages were introduced; the TB strains that were sensitive to antibiotics died, but the drug-resistant cells survived and continued to glow.

The group's research was funded as part of a major new research initiative from Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). The institute announced March 19 that it will partner with South Africa's University of KwaZulu-Natal to establish an international research center focused on the TB and HIV coepidemics in Africa, called KwaZulu-Natal Research Institute for TB-HIV. Jacobs will direct research into developing rapid and effective TB tests, one of the new institute's primary objectives. His work with Hatfull and Piuri was related to that effort. More information about the HHMI initiative is available on the institute's Web site at www.hhmi.org/news/krith20090319.html

"The development of reporter flurophages," Jacobs said, "allows us to bypass the existing method of diagnosing TB, which requires cultivating slow-growing bacteria in a biosafety level 3 environment, a time-consuming and costly process. By infecting live M. tuberculosis cells with a flurophage, a quick and highly sensitive visual reading can be done. We are optimistic that we can move the diagnostic process from several weeks to several days or even hours, which could have a significant impact on treatment."


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Contact: Morgan Kelly
mekelly@pitt.edu
412-624-4356
University of Pittsburgh
Source:Eurekalert

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