Thursday, September 02, 2010

New test can give tuberculosis results in two hours

A new test for tubercolosis can bring results within two hours according to a new study. The test can also check for drug resistant forms of the disease and is faster than any other test available.

From Reuters, writer Kate Kelland tells us about the study results.

In a study in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), researchers said that when used on 1,730 patients with suspected TB and suspected drug-resistant TB, the Xpert MTB/RIF test successfully identified 98 percent of all cases.

It also identified 98 percent of patients with a form of TB resistant to rifampin, or rifampicin -- one of the most powerful TB drugs -- and achieved these results in less than two hours.

Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases described the test findings as "impressive" in terms of speed, accuracy and sensitivity.

"Within two hours, you can not only have a diagnosis, but you can also have a good idea of the range of drugs you can use," he told Reuters, adding that such capabilities were "unheard of" with current testing methods.

Doctors say current diagnostic testing for TB -- which involves microscopy in labs with trained experts and can take weeks -- has barely been improved in the last 125 years.

Tests for drug-resistant TB can take months and are notoriously insensitive, so new, more accurate tools to rapidly diagnose TB and its drug-resistant forms are urgently needed.

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