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A new experimental diagnostic test able to quickly distinguish infection from tuberculosis disease
Date:4/1/2011

A potential new experimental diagnostic test able to quickly distinguish individuals with active tuberculosis (TB) from those with latent TB infection has been developed. If the preliminary results of the study will be confirmed in a larger population sample, the new diagnostic system could allow more effective strategies to control the spread of the re-emerging pathology.

The work was performed by a group of scientists from the Catholic University of Rome, the National Institute of Infectious Diseases "L. Spallanzani" of Rome and the University of Sassari, in a study published on the international journal PLoS One.

TB is an infection caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium known as Koch's bacillus, named after its discoverer (Robert Koch) in 1882. Following infection with the bacillus, two different scenario may occur: "active disease", clinically evident, and that - if not properly treated - can lead to death and the so called "latent infection", that is asymptomatic and that can last for a lifetime.

Worldwide it is estimated that no less than 2 billion people are infected with the TB bacillus in the latent form, and, luckily, only 5-10% of these infected individuals may develop TB disease. The causes responsible for the manifestation of the disease are still unknown and rapid diagnosis of patients with pulmonary TB is essential to reduce the cure time and to limit the spread of the infection to the community. Diagnosis of infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis is still performed by the intradermal tuberculin test, developed in the early 20th century, used as a means of screening to determine the spread of infection in the population.

"The tuberculin skin test- explains Delia Goletti, corresponding author of the paper published on PLoS One and that together with Dr. Enrico Girardi has coordinated the study at the National Institute of Infectious Diseases 'L. Spallanzani' - has several drawb
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Contact: Giovanni Delogu - Delia Goletti
gdelogu@rm.unicatt.it
Catholic University of Rome
Source:Eurekalert

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