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UC Davis Develops New Strategy Tests for Dangerous Stage of Tuberculosis in Asia
Date:8/21/2013

of more TB patients to be screened,” Khan said. “As a result, effective treatment can be provided in a more timely fashion to reduce the spread of this deadly disease.”    

The antibody test was designed to be compatible with an existing “high throughput” screening system so that it could be put to practical use quickly, Khan explained. The screening instrument, developed by Luminex Corporation, is already used in other clinical lab screening settings.

The TB screening system can analyze about 100 TB patient samples in two hours. In the Pakistan trial, the machine will be shared by at least three hospitals in different regions of the country, and patients will come to the hospitals to provide blood samples. But if put to full use, the system is designed to test blood samples taken in rural clinics, dried on filter paper and mailed to a major urban hospital.

Because people’s immune systems don’t always launch the same kind of antibodies against the bacterium, the multiplex screens for eight to ten key antibodies, Khan said. The telltale antibodies were selected from an original roster of 28 on the basis of their success as indicators of active infection in the earlier trial.

Khan and his colleagues are working on a second strategy that screens for a set of proteins in the immune system known to regulate the defensive immune response, called immunomodulators. Early tests suggest that together, the antibody and the newer strategy for immune biomarkers may increase the success rate of TB detection to more than 90 percent, Khan said. The two screens can be done using the same technology.

The research team is also developing a third TB test, using the same diagnostic screening platform to look for gene mutations indicative of drug resistance. Resistance to TB drugs is on the rise and a major public health concern worldwide. Current culture-based tests take many weeks, and Khan expects a quicker and high-t
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